What Not to Learn from Eastern Orthodoxy

Patriarchal Summit 2014

Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortaiton, Evangelii Gaudium, raised eyebrows within and beyond the Catholic world for what the Sovereign Pontiff had to say on things economic. Considerably less attention was paid to the document’s other discussions which range from the so-called New Evangelization to matters of Church governance. On this latter point, the Pope suggested, in line with the Second Vatican Council, that the local episcopal conferences, “like the ancient patriarchal Churches … are in a position ‘to contribute in many and fruitful ways to the concrete realization of the collegial spirit’” before lamenting that this desire has not been fully realized, since “a juridical status of episcopal conferences which would see them as subjects of specific attributions, including genuine doctrinal authority, has not yet been sufficiently elaborated.” Further down in the exhortation, Francis offered a nod of approval to the ongoing Catholic/Eastern Orthodox dialogue which, in his mind, provides “the opportunity [for Catholics] to learn more about the meaning of episcopal collegiality and [the Orthodox] experience of synodality.” That statement was pregnant with unintended irony.

Barely a month after Evangelii Gaudium was issued, the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarch (EP) of Constantinople launched into a very public and unedifying spat over the meaning of primacy in the Orthodox Church. Though opinions differ, it appears that one of the main impetuses for the exchange was the EP’s call for Orthodox leaders to assemble for the purposes of laying out an agenda for a “Great and Holy Council” which Constantinople hopes will take place in 2016. It is a well-known fact that the MP and EP have been engaged in a tug of war for practical primacy in the Orthodox Church since the former’s resurgence after the fall of Communism in Russia. While the EP retains a high position of dignity in the Orthodox world due to its historic link to Eastern Christendom’s crown-jewel city, today the heir of the ecumenical throne, Bartholomew I, directly oversees a tiny flock living a mostly ghetto existence in Istanbul, Turkey.

Meanwhile, in Russia, Patriarch Kirill I can be seen rubbing elbows with Russian President Vladimir Putin as his church continues to re-evangelize Russia and, more controversially, exert considerable political influence in Russian society. As the head of the single largest Orthodox body with parishes spread across the globe, the MP, in the eyes of many, looks to be the authentic leader of world Orthodoxy even if its governance and magisterial authority is, canonically speaking, circumscribed. Collegiality at the pan-Orthodox level appears to have given way to concrete numbers and the pragmatic authority which accompanies them. At this juncture, a “Great and Holy Council” for Orthodoxy in 2016—or at any other point in the foreseeable future—seems unlikely.

Closer to home in the West, the overlapping Orthodox jurisdictions in the Americas have provided another reason for Catholics to give pause concerning the supposed virtues of collegiality and synodality. Formed in 2009, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America was intended to lay the groundwork for the formation of a unified American Orthodox Church which would no longer be divided along ethnic lines while being under the authority of the EP. This, too, has started to rapidly unravel. On January 15, 2014, the secretary of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR)—an autonomous body of the Russian Church which remains linked with the MP—sent a letter to the Assembly rebuking its early plans to work toward an independent American Church while asserting its canonical right to serve the Russian “diaspora” (and those attached to it) without external interference. Less than a week later, the bishops of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America—the second largest Orthodox jurisdiction on the continent after the Greek Church—withdrew from the Assembly completely, citing an ongoing territorial quarrel in Qatar between the Antiochians and the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem as the impetus for the decision.

Some might see these recent events as unfortunate aberrations in the otherwise healthy governance life of the Orthodox Church, but they would be wrong to do so. Since the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Orthodox history has been littered, and some might uncharitably say defined, by internecine strife and factionalism as those few local Orthodox churches which were not under the Muslim heel rose in practical importance while the more ancient patriarchates receded into obscurity. In the 20th Century large swathes of Orthodox remained out of communion with particular churches for a mixture of jurisdictional, doctrinal, and chauvinistic reasons. While the situation has improved, one has to wonder how long it will last. In addition to the aforementioned dispute in Qatar, there is ongoing acrimony in Estonia, Macedonia, and Ukraine which currently has three different Orthodox churches vying for control. With the EP and MP currently at each other’s throats, how long until they break communion with each other?

The point of summarizing these events is not to provide Catholics with a cheap opportunity to engage in triumphalism over the Orthodox but rather to offer the Church of Rome and the sui iuris churches in communion with her an opportunity to reflect on what collegiality and synodality has meant, as a practical matter, to the second largest Christian communion in the world. While outside afflictions in the form of Islamic invasions and Communist oppression warrant more than a bit of the blame for Orthodoxy’s woes, it cannot be denied that its confederate model of governance—loose, self-driven, and unreliable as it is—has neutralized the Orthodox Church’s attempt to collectively assert itself against the rising tide of secularism while also addressing a myriad of matters which bear directly on faith and morals.

Take, for instance, the issue of contraception. It is no exaggeration that a faithful Orthodox Christian can go to three different priests in the same American city and receive three disparate answers expressing everything from absolute prohibition to prohibition of abortifacient only to complete permissibility. Who is right? Who is wrong? Even if the local ruling bishop of a given priest speaks authoritatively on the matter (which is rare), there’s always another hierarch of another jurisdiction who may go the other way. The problem does not stop there. Fr. John Whiteford, a prominent priest and commentator in ROCOR, recently opined that one of the possible motivators for his church’s decision to distance itself from the Bishops’ Assembly was because other North American Orthodox jurisdictions “have laymen in good standing, and even clergy, who are openly advocating for gay marriage, and proclaim that committed monogamous homosexual relationships are not sinful.” What authority exists in Orthodoxy to tell them otherwise?

Of course the Catholic Church is not without its serious catechetical confusion and oversight shortfalls. Though the final word on the matter has yet to be issued, talk of schism is still in the air as Germany’s bishops are poised to allow Communion for Catholics who have divorced and remarried without having their first union annulled. Under a potential model borrowed from Orthodoxy, whereby the local bishops’ conference in Germany is handed—to use Pope Francis’ words—“genuine doctrinal authority,” what, or who, could authoritatively stop them from taking such an erroneous decision? At some point—hopefully sooner rather than later—Rome would have to speak and speak forcefully. However, if the EP tomorrow did the unthinkable and began to bless same-sex unions, what would follow from this? Perhaps a public admonishment from the MP or other local Orthodox churches, backed up by some dusty old canons, might be issued along with threats of excommunication, but at the end of the day it would be business as usual in Orthodoxy.

Our separated brethren in the East (including those now living in the West) have much instruction to offer Catholicism, particularly Roman Catholicism. The beauty, integrity, and reverence of Orthodox liturgy should put us to shame for the barrage of banalities and (sometimes literal) clownishness which invaded Roman Rite worship in the wake of Vatican II. Orthodox theology, despite the insistence of some concerning its intrinsic “anti-Western” bent and “impenetrable mysticism,” offers a complementary pathway to truth built on the towering thought of the Eastern Doctors who are part of the entire Church’s intellectual patrimony. In a sense Pope Francis was right: we ought to look at Orthodoxy’s experience of collegiality and synodality, albeit as a sobering warning rather than a ready-made model for imitation.

Editor’s note: The photo above was taken March 9 at a summit of Eastern Orthodox patriarchs in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo credit: Patriarchal Press Service.)

Gabriel S. Sanchez

By

Gabriel S. Sanchez is an author and independent researcher living with his family in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

  • droolbritannia

    “spread across the globe, the MP, in the eyes of mean, looks to be the authentic leader of world Orthodoxy”

    In the eyes of ‘mean’? Am I missing something?

    • Joseph

      Perhaps the author meant to say “In the eyes of many”?

  • Joseph

    I agree. The relationship of the Moscow Patriarch with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is very edifying, just not in a positive way. There was even a time when the MP dropped the EP from the diptychs in 1995, effectively breaking communion between the two Patriarchs, because the EP insisted it had jurisprudence over the whole diaspora including Estonia, and the MP disagreed with that – the MP insisted Estonia came under Moscow’s jurisdiction. Then, of course, on the other hand Moscow gave autocephaly to OCA (Orthodox Church in America) and to the Japan Patriarchate, however the EP does not recognize those Churches as autocephalous and insists that the MP has no authority to grant autocephaly to any Orthodox Churches whatsoever, because as the “Second Rome”, only Constantinople has such authority. These are some of the installments of the ongoing saga between Second Rome (Constantinople) and Third Rome (Moscow).

    On the positive side however, you won’t see any ladies with their breasts falling out and buttocks hanging out in Russian Orthodox churches, especially at ROCOR. Those priests do insist on modest dress in the house of God, and they are not shy to instruct and admonish the parishioners who don’t dress properly. They have spare clothing items to lend to those folks who aren’t dressed properly, and ROCOR being a Church where parishioners still customarily greet their priests by kissing the priests’ hands, it somehow just comes naturally that “Father” (Bathyuska, as they affectionately call their priests) does have a real fatherly authority, and he can effectively enforce norms of modest dress in his church.

    • gsk

      I’m all for modesty, but isn’t that a little facetious, when those women are told that contraception is fine?

  • Joseph K

    Isn’t the “orthodox experience of collegiality and synodality”” simply the original churches mode of governance as opposed to the Roman churches monarchical innovations?
    While all is not well within Orthodoxy, It is a bit patronizing to look down on us a quirky way of doing church governance when really it is Rome that has taken liberties concerning this matter.

    • tom

      There are some 3000 “Christian” churches that have splintered from the Roman Catholic Church since the 16th century. The Orthodox have done a much better job than Rome in keeping the Faith. When we’re finally overrun by communism, led by former Catholics, we’ll better understand what Russia went through in the 20th century. Right now, pray that the Orthodox can fight off this recent attack by our Neo-Cons to complete what they started in 1917.

      • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

        You have it exactly backwards. 3,000 groups of Christians have formed their own protestant churches BECAUSE Rome has kept the Faith that people have not wanted to keep. When the Orthodox accept moral laxity, there is no need to break communion with them. Thus, the appearence of unity merely indicates a diluted version of the Gospel.

        • patricia m.

          Very well said. Had the Pope accepted Henry VIII petition for divorce, we would have no Anglicanism right.

          • tom

            Which divorce? His first or second? Hmm.

        • John200

          Small distinction, but I recollect the number of Protestant denominations as running to 30,000-odd about 15 years ago (Wikipedia reports 33,000 in year 2001) and 70,000-odd today.

          The difference is a big number, but I call it a small distinction because it does not affect your substantive point, which is true.

          I agree with you.

          • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

            You’re right! I left out a zero! Good thing I’m not a banker…

        • tom

          My point is that Christianity is to be eliminated, again, in Russia and the Ukraine by our Neo-Cons, The great grandchildren of Lenin and Trotsky are attacking Christianity in the former USSR.. That’s a bigger danger than divorce in the Orthodox Church, per se….or don’t you care?

          • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

            I do care, but I’m afraid I do not follow your point.

      • Robert Dibdale

        St. John Damascene considered Islam to be an eastern schism “Concerning Heresies”.

    • Diane Kamer

      Assertion is not proof. It is not even argument. Scores of Catholic historians and patristics scholars, past and present, would take issue with your shopworn and unscholarly claims re the Chruch’s alleged primitive “synodality” and re Rome’s alleged “innovations.”

  • poetcomic1

    Catholic means universal. One means one. I could no more become a Greek or Russian or whatever Orthodox than turn into a petunia.

    • http://onbehalfofall.org/ Gabe Martini

      I can’t believe people still believe this sort of thing. You clearly have the Internet… Find a local Orthodox parish and do some research. I’m neither Greek nor Russian, but am very much a part of the Orthodox-Catholic Church.

      • http://onbehalfofall.org/ Gabe Martini

        And let’s not forget the violence and prejudice between Irish, French, and otherwise Catholics even in our own United States in the past century. Get real.

  • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

    Although problems of communion and laxity are evident among the Orthodox, can we really claim any longer that things are better in the Church of Rome? With every new papal pronouncement, the harder truths of the Gospel recede further and further into the distance. It is increasingly difficult to see that Francis and his predecessors even belong to the same religion, let alone the same denomination.

    • tom

      Communism left human suffering across Russia. It’s the unusual woman who hasn’t had one or more abortions and the unusual Russian man who hasn’t drank himself to death by age 55. It’s a preview of what our Democratic Party has planned for the USA.

      • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

        Communism in Russia has nothing to do with the Orthodox in America who have embraced contraception and divorce. This is not just a question of individuals finding the Gospel difficulty to live out. (We all do.) Orthodox priests and bishops now accept such things as licit and moral per se.

        • tom

          So do 3000 heretical offshoots of Roman Catholicism in the former “West”.

        • http://onbehalfofall.org/ Gabe Martini

          Embraced contraception and divorce? I’m not sure where this myth comes from, but it is up there with “you have to be Greek or Russian” to be Orthodox.

          • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

            Um… “embraced” as in “officially declared acceptable practices left up to one’s conscience.” Is it really necessary to point to official statements by Orthodox bishops to demonstrate this? It is neither new information or a new orientation for the Orthodox.
            Well, here you go. Divorce:
            goarch.org/archdiocese/departments/marriage/interfaith/faq/divorce-fqa and contraception: http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/controversialissues

    • ColdStanding

      Perhaps what passes for the current theology of Church would best be characterized less in terms of Roman Catholic Christianity and more in terms of Roman Common Core Christianity.

  • Nestorian

    The Nestorian Church, which is the True Church, is also the only branch of Christianity whose history is not intimately bound up with that of the Roman Empire. I believe the present discussion concerning the liabilities of the Eastern Orthodox mode of church governance illustrate the theological relevance of this historical fact. Both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox models of church governance are based in significant measure on ideas drawn from the nature of political rule in the Roman empire, albeit in different ways.

    The Nestorian perspective on church governance offers the only way out of the respective dillemmas faced by Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. The non-Roman history of the Nestorian Church is a key factor in play here, as it clears the field of confusions between the way the Church of Christ is to be governed, and the way the imperial dominions of the Roman Empire were historically governed.

    As a footnote, I would add that even the Monophysite Churches (e.g., Coptic, Syrian Orthodox, etc.) are Roman in their mode of Church governance, as it is what it is essentially due to a violent counter-reaction against a confused Roman civil-ecclesiastical governance that prevailed in the fourth through sixth centuries.

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      Oh, brother… We should all accept the example of “christianity” most acceptable to the Muslims in theology and governance. Brilliant.

      • TheAbaum

        He’s only here to troll, and he’s also an apostate, a heretic and a fraud. Check out his complaints about a lack of civility because I refused to treat his noxious heresies as decided and unworthy of engagement-which he punctuated with the use of the term “a**hole”.

        • TomAbell

          Well, in fact, the historical “governance” of “Nestorian’s” Church of the East has featured a Patriarch (or “Catholicos”) whose authority has been the most all-encompasing (and, if you will, “papal-like”) of that in any Eastern Christian body, so his comment seems mal-a-propos.

          • Nestorian

            Yes, but the Nestorian Patriarchate makes none of the dogmatic claims for his own authority that the Popes of Rome do. As such, the Nestorian mode of church governance admits of a flexibility suitable to prevailing historical conditions that is absent from the Roman Catholic context.
            And though the Catholicos traditionally enjoys a great deal of authority, the synod of bishops exceeds him in authority in principle. In that regard, the principles of Nestorian governance resemble those of Eastern Orthodoxy closely.

            • Guest

              IOW, serious error.

              • Nestorian

                Show me where the Nestorian Church (my Church) has promulgated dogmas of any kind whatsoever regarding the nature of Church authority.
                .
                The only binding dogmas of the Nestorian Church are those concerning the Trinity and the Divinity of Christ, as enacted at the Roman Councils of 325, in Nicea, and 381, in Ephesus.
                .
                Notice that I do not speak of these two Councils as Ecumenical, or “Universal.” In point of fact, they were principally Councils of the local churches within Roman domains.

                • Guest

                  Only Dogmatic issues concern error? All else is prudential? If that is the standard then anything goes.

                  • Nestorian

                    You seem to believe that the Nestorian Church is lacking the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, and in a living, historically continuous Sacred Tradition. Nothing could be further than the truth. On the contrary, the Sacred Tradition of Nestorianism has persisted essentially unchanged in its distinctive richness for over 1600 years.
                    .
                    The last dogmatically noteworthy development in that Tradition was the Nestorian Church’s assent to the doctrinal witness borne at the local Roman Council of Constantinople, in 381.

        • Nestorian

          You inveterately continue living up to the descriptions I applied to you in the prior thread, when you met my civil and carefully thought-through contribution to the discussion on original sin with nothing but insults and bullying.

          • TheAbaum

            Calling someone who leaves a faith an apostate isn’t an insult, it’s a fact. Nestorianism is a declared hersesy, so an adherent would be a heretic. That you find what you are insulting is your problem.

            What’s insulting is you boldly announce your enmity and then expect to be engaged in good faith.

            Of course, if you were the towering intellect and erudite scholar you fancied yourself to be, you wouldn’t have to reach into the gutter for profanity to express yourself.

            • Nestorian

              Here is a news flash: Your own Church, the Roman Catholic Church, no longer regards the Nestorian position on Christ’s natures as heretical. Read the Common Christological declaration, signed by Their Holinesses John Paul II and Mar Dinkha IV in 1994. Nestorian Christology has always been in line with Latin Orthodoxy, most especially with the doctrinal decrees of your Fourth and Sixth Ecumenical Councils. So there has always been fundamental agreement on this point, even if this fact was obscured for many centuries due to misunderstandings.
              .
              As to who is in error on the papacy and original sin (along with other doctrines as well), the mere fact that you are a Catholic who happens to be blogging on a Catholic website in no way establishes that the Nestorian Church is in error on these points. These issues need to be debated on their intrinsic merits, in light of the historical record and a proper understanding of Scripture.
              .
              If you have no wish to engage me on these matters in a civil and constructive way, then at least stop ceaselessly offending against the Fifth Commandment by insulting me. No one is twisting your arm to respond to me; you are entirely free to ignore my posts if you do not wish to engage in a civil discussion regarding the issues I raise.

              • TheAbaum

                Right. After post after post decrying various Church doctrines as unsuitable to you enough to cause you to apostatize, you now claim comity and conformity.

                Once again, words have meanings. That you find heretic and apostate insulting is your problem, not mine. Both are applicable. But then again, I can express myself without resorting to profanity

                As for “No one is twisting your arm to respond to me” that goes both ways. The simple fact is that you desperately want attention and that’s why you troll.

                Be gone, Satan.

      • Nestorian

        If you think Nestorianism resembles Islam, then you obviously know nothing about it.

        • TheAbaum

          One heresy is as good as another.

        • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

          I didn’t say it resembled Islam. I said it was more acceptable to Islam than is orthodox Chrsitianity, because of its heretical teaching about the separate human and divine natures of Christ. That is one reason why Islam always favored Nestorianism, which is also why it didn’t die out sooner than it did. (And yes, Nestorianism is dead.)

          • TheAbaum

            Watch it Doc. He’ll call you an a-hole.

            • Nestorian

              No, sir – only you have earned that ignominious title in view of your ceaseless insulting and bullying of practically anyone you engage in discussion on this website.

              • TheAbaum

                Glad you are so preoccupied with me.

          • choyM

            Don’t forget that Catholics share communion with said Nestorians

          • Nestorian

            Nestorianism is not dead, but alive; there are approximately 400,000 of us scattered around the world today. Here in the US, there are concentrations of Nestorians in the Chicago area, as well as in the greater San Francisco Bay area.
            .
            Ours is today a remnant church in the classical biblical sense, though at one time, around the turn of the second millenium, there were many millions of Nestorian Christians scattered across much of Western and Central Asia, as well as China.
            .
            As to the allegedly heretical Christological teaching of our Church, it was always in perfect accord with the dogmas of your own Fourth (Chalcedon) and Sixth (Constantinople III, 681ad) ecumenical councils – which, again, are really local Roman councils, and not “universal” at all. As such, the Nestorian Church lends its full approbation to the witness of those Christologically oriented Councils
            .
            This fact of fundamental agreement on Christology was very belatedly but correctly acknowledged by Pope John Paul II in 1994, when he signed the Common Christological Declaration with His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Patriarch-Catholicos of the Holy Catholic Apostolic Church of the East (which is the real name of the Nestorian Church).
            .
            There are, however, serious doctrinal disagreements that remain on other matters, including the nature of papal primacy and original sin.

    • choyM

      The only thing that Orthodoxy added to the original model of governance of the Church is that bishops were assembled into regional synods (the Metropolitans) and eventually into larger synods (that Patriarchs). But the synodality remains. Also circumstances of history (Turkish yoke) allowed for greater separation between Moscow and Constantinople. Also the fall of the Roman empire meant that the regional synods assembled into national synods rather than provincial because the provinces of Rome no longer existed. And these models existed even before the schism of the Nestorians.

  • Guest

    If there is no final living authority how can one not fall into moral relativism regardless of the faithful liturgy or valid sacraments?

    Allowing for contraption and multiple divorce and “remarriage” is hardly the Gospel message.

    • Raccko

      Hi Guest. Even if there is no final living authority you do not fall into total moral relativism because you still have the Bible and tradition.

      But I don’t pretend that nothing is relative either. A person who does not care about marriage does not have as good a case as someone who cares alot about it but was in an extreme situation. There is a relative difference between those cases. If we are going to be absolutist about every little thing it because like the description of phariseeism in the Bible.

      • Guest

        Divorce and remarriage is no little thing. Your position reflects the basic problem with Orthodoxy.

  • dmd53

    Rubbish.

    Talk about a red herring with Sanchez’s canard about same sex marriage. “Pot, meet kettle” comes to mind as the the Catholic communion has far more discordant voices worldwide on the local level urging same sex marriage and other heretical changes to dogma than does Orthodoxy.The Papal and Curial model haven’t eliminated that trend.

    ROCOR’s Father Whiteford engages in the worst form of calumny regarding his “claims” regarding supposed support for so-called “gay marriage” within the Orthodox Church. For a Catholic commentator to cite them authoritatively as proof of his theory is absurd, and insulting

    The supposed heretical utterances of some unidentified laymen or even clergy hardly serves as a basis to characterize the Orthodox Church’s position on such matters. The same mindset of triumphalist “traditional” Orthodox struts around and loves to condemn the Church of Rome over her random aberrations in liturgical practice (oft repeated clown mass videos or puppet shows – as if they were in any way normative), activist, feminist nuns advocating radical changes to Catholic dogma or other oddities in the exponentially larger communion of the Church of Rome.

    I suspect Sanchez didn’t bother to read the clear, forthright and unambiguous admonition regarding abortion and marriage issued by His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew in his 2013 Nativity message, read in all parishes under his omophor worldwide.http://www.goarch.org/news/patriarxikiapodixeisxristougennon2013-en Moscow, the OCA and others have made similar statements.

    We Orthodox and you Catholics live in an imperfect world. Yes, Orthodoxy is struggling with primacy, conciliatory and syndodal vision in the modern world.

    News Flash: So is Rome.

    We can be man and woman enough to take notice that our respective Churches fall short of the ideal. We can, and must learn from each other. But – this has been true for all time. No good is served by one sided, inaccurate polemic masquerading as apologia or commentary.

    We have much to learn from each other and this article fails miserably if that was the author’s intent.

    • Guest

      The Catholic Church has a Pope. The Orthodox do not. That some dissent from the Pope is not the same as not having one.

      • dmd53

        And that is a defense of the Papacy in just what manner?

        • Guest

          Yes. That people sin is not proof we cannot know what is right and what is wrong. With no Pope you have no final arbiter. Not unlike Protestants.

          • choyM

            We’ve done well for 2000 years. The truth does not need an arbiter, it is not the decision of what to say what the truth is. The truth is absolute, therefore it can be discerned by the Church as a whole. If you look at the history of the Ecumenical Councils, things where not decided on the last day of the council and then everybody just fell in line. Far from it. Issues and controversies continued and everything is far from settled afterwards, always there is a future council that will affirm the previous one, such is the case with Ecumenical Councils. And some councils are even overturned and deemed heretical.

          • Hal Smith

            The problem with making one single earthly man the final arbiter was what has divided Christianity into two equal fields. Protestants and Orthodox both divided with Catholicism into this claim. If this claim was so good and healthy for Church life, we would not see that division. If the point of having so much authority in one person was to keep people from going into bad decisions, then why has the Catholic Church reversed positions? One such example was forcing everyone to use Latin masses in the past, while actually forcing everyone to use English non-Tridentine masses later. English Protestants objected to the first, and sedavanticans schismated over the second.

            You are stuck with the possibility that the Catholic Church’s position was at one moment wrong and also forcing everyone to accept a position that was actually wrong. Since Catholic positions are shown to have been wrong at some point, it is better to allow dissent from a wrong decision that force everyone to follow what is wrong.

            • Robert Dibdale

              The EO have a history of liturgical discord and enforced conformity, just recall the Old Believers.

            • Blake Circle

              There is a missing distinction in your comment. Doctrine and discipline are not the same thing. Doctrines are declared truths. Disciplines are rules or modes imposed to help order society and properly dispose individuals to a virtuous life. Disciplines themselves are not matters of faith and morals. Nor are they even eternal truths. The Church has only been granted infallibility with regard to faith and morals when proclaiming teaching to the the entire world. That is fairly limited.

              The language or rubrics of the Mass are not matters of faith and morals. As with all disciplines, one way of doing things may better achieve the end of properly disposing people to the good, but this does not make them something infallibly declared (except to the extent that they are guaranteed as not contrary to natural or Divine law, because that would constitute a failing of the Church as the support and bulwark of truth as guaranteed in 1Tim. 3:15).

              Because such disciplines do not imply a position with regard to a matter of faith and morals, a challenge to infallibility based on them does not hold water.

              • http://edinburgh.academia.edu/JonGreig Jon Andrew Greig

                I would just add this same distinction implicitly holds for Orthodoxy as well, so really it doesn’t make much of a difference one way or another.

                Also in what regard is the commenter making his argument anyway? Historically? Or on claims about ecclesiological structure? And if the latter—is that in regards to doctrine/dogma? or discipline?

                Also, hi Blake. :)

          • Paraskeva

            The final arbiter is the Holy Spirit, as made manifest through both the tradition of the church and the Bible. One doesn’t need a Pope for that. Thank you DMD53, choyM and others for your well thought-out comments. As we say in Orthodoxy – come, taste and see. The spiritual nurturing and guidance we receive “on the ground” is a far different cry from the church politics engendered by fallen people in a dark world doing their best to discern the Will of God through His Holy Spirit. As my Russian brothers and sisters pray – “God, struggle alongside the strugglers.” I’m happy to struggle, with guidance and in communion with my fellow Orthodox – clergy and laity together, rather than receive top-down dictation.

      • bonaventure

        It’s more than “some” who dissent from the Pope.
        And lately, many faithful Catholics have been silently wondering if the pope himself isn’t dissenting from the Faith and Tradition (in both faith and morals) he is supposed to guard.

        • Blake Circle

          Doubt with regard to the Pope’s position on faith and morals might suggest a lack of faith or faithfulness to the Catholic Church, so perhaps the nomenclature of faithful Catholics is incorrect. Perhaps not, since one can certainly think through something without becoming unfaithful.

          More important, though, is that the number of those who dissent does not change the structure of the Church. The article points out that there is unity within the Catholic Church that seems to be lacking in Orthodoxy. Structuring the Church more like Orthodoxy, it seems that the author suggests, would lead to unnecessary confusion and greater need for Rome to clarify the unified position. It could lead to division if people become set in a way that Rome later instructs was incorrect. I am not sure I agree that more localized collegiality and synodality among bishops would be such a bad thing, but I see the argument that it could lead to greater confusion and waywardness rather than holiness and truth.

    • Arriero

      Of course should not be any doubt that the Truth and nothing but the Truth is in possession of the Catholic Church and nothing but the Catholic Church.

      You say: «[…] No good is served by one sided»

      This is what the Church has been fighting for God knows already how much time: sheer relativism. Truth, Goodness and Beauty (ergo Salvation) is served by and through the Catholic Church, period. Faith, Tradition and Reason. Respect does not mean acceptance.

      The author of this article seems to pertain to the only Catholic tradition where the evil tentacles of protestantism and of the anything-but-orthodox church were never allowed to penetrate, namely the Latin Church. Maybe that’s why he sounds somewhat annoying. Like our Holy Pope, who also comes from the Latin tradition (a special mixture of Spain and Italy, passing through South-America).

      And let me add that: ROME DOES NOT PAY TRAITORS. From whatever side.

      PD- If you say that «we have much to learn from each other» is that you don’t seem to have complete certainty about the truth taugh by your church. I certainly have many things to learn about many topics, but about religion I only hear what my Church has to say. That’s why we call and consider ourselves Catholics and that’s why we want a powerful Church, again.
      PDD- For the rest, I very much appreciate and respect the Orthodox Church. Don’t take this comment as something personal.

    • Gabriel S. Sanchez

      Three thoughts:
      First, I agree that there are discordant voices in the Catholic Church on a number of topics; however, we have a means of determining which of those are discordant and which are in harmony with the magisterium. I would not call an Orthodox priest who turns a blind eye toward contraception to be dissenting from Orthodox teaching. What’s unclear is if the priest who upholds the prohibition on contraception — Orthodoxy’s historic position — is any more or less correct.
      Second, I am aware first-hand of some of the voices Fr. Whiteford is referencing. If you think he is overstating the matter, I would suggest you take it up with him.
      Last, I do not believe I said that these wayward voices represented the Orthodox Church’s official position. However, those same voices — and many others — would probably be the first to suggest the Orthodox Church has no official position.

      • Hal Smith

        Hello, Gabriel.
        As I see it, the main difference is the Pope’s ability to act, as you said, “forcefully” over the rest of the church. If there is another difference in the method of determining which is in harmony with the Magisterium, please let me know. Otherwise, I see them looking to the same things- bishops’ councils, canons, theologians, church fathers, and the Patriarchs. The Patriarch is the main decisive authority.

        But making the Pope infallible or letting him correct everyone easily in times of a split only creates an illusion of unity and correctness. The RC Church is less prepared for the possibility that the position of the Pope or a Vatican Council would be incorrect. Take for example the Old Catholics or Sedavanticans who disagree with innovations made. When the Pope decided against the Tridentine mass, used for so long, and Bishops in America implemented a decision to suppress Latin services, was dissent allowable? Maybe if a neutral person investigated what Church Tradition should say, he/she would find the Tridentine mass preferable or allowable? But such a direct, forceful church system of decisionmaking does not allow for those possibilities. To accept such a system nearly requires the premise that the Pope and leadership must always be correct whenever they make such decisions.

        The second problem is the “forceful” unity that results may not really be so healthy. If it had been, perhaps the massive fracturing of West Christianity that lived under that model would not have occurred. The Orthodox Churches did not fracture to the same extent as the Catholic Church did with its division of Protestantism. In fact, the Protestant allegation was that Rome was acting as if the Pope’s decisions were a “final authority”. Since not everyone agreed with all those decisions, it forced them into a position of either accepting decisions they believed were wrong or splitting.

        While that dillemma may also exist in Orthodox churches (accept or leave), the challenge is not put so strongly and forcefully to believers, thereby aiding church unity and the ability for the church as a whole to experience movement on an issue.

        • Gabriel S. Sanchez

          Yes, the Catholic Church has problems — serious problems. My hope is that we don’t compound them by uncritically importing those found in the Orthodox East.

          • Raccko

            Who said “uncritically”? Have a critical mind. Is it better to have a conciliar model and allow disagreements on secondary issues like condoms or is it better to have a kind of monolith on those things, even when in reality a monolithic decision can turn out to be mistaken (as in the Latin-English debates of the preceding centuries)?

            • musicacre

              Who is using Latin when “…they should use English.” ?? Is some law being broken?

            • zoltan

              Encouraging adultery is not flexibility; it’s sin.

  • cbjwarner@gmail.com

    It is an interesting article. A lot of what Sanchez says is true but I don’t think he is interpreting Francis correctly. There are some things we can learn from Orthodox collegiality. Sanchez points to the lack of Magisterium, which is an obvious gaping hole in Orthodox governance, but there are other pieces to the puzzle. The synodal concerns Easter Christians have with the papacy have to do with jurisdiction, particularly the freedom to appointment bishops, the autonomy to ordain married men in North America (and other “Diaspora” regions) without interference from Rome, and the autonomy to govern in other practical matters particular to rite and place. As we know, confederacy is vital for the application of the principle of subsidiarity, but, of course, we also need to be united in faith and morals.

    The problems are circular. We need an eighth Ecumenical council (in the Orthodox sense – including all legitimate bishops of the world, Orthodox and Catholic), but that will not happen until there is reunion, and there will not be reunion until the Orthodox find unity among themselves – especially pertaining to faith and morals, which they cannot achieve without the help of the Pope and Magisterium at an Ecumenical council.

    • choyM

      We Orthodox are fine by ourselves, we are united in faith, we are united in the Eucharist, that is all that matters. If you look at history bishops bicker all the time. I think that is the problem with some of these kinds of discussions is that we try to paint a rosy past, and then point to problems at certain points in time and say there is a failure on that group at that point of history. But the Church was never without controversy, never without challenges, never without issues. It wasn’t like there was 1000 years where everybody was just walking hand in hand and it was sunny with a rainbow in the sky and the birds were chirping and all that. Right off the bat there were problems in the Church. Read Acts 15. Read all the acts of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. At no point in time was the Church not threatened by any kind of intrigue.
      And no, we do not need Rome for a council. We are not caught up with the term “ecumenical”. The Orthodox has has many councils since the Second Millennium and the Church did fine even without calling any such councils as “ecumenical”.

      • HA

        We Orthodox are fine by ourselves, we are united in faith, we are united in the Eucharist, that is all that matters.

        I would take issue with every single one of those statements. Neither branch of our church is fine by themselves. Both secularism and Islam are circling the waters around the wreckage that was once Christendom, and the enemy’s mission to divide and conquer is made that much easier when we execute the first part of that strategy for them.

        If you don’t find the Catholic model of unity to your liking, by all means, create it in your own fashion and show the world how it is done, but do not tell us that the Orthodox are “united”, or risk being known as a troll or a lunatic. I await the near-annual ritual of reading about one set of clerics going after another with brooms and candlesticks in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre this Easter season, to the delight and amusement of smirking atheists everywhere. If you think things are “fine”, then that is part of the problem.

        • choyM

          There is nobody who knows more about the issues with Islam than the Orthodox. All the Orthodox “homeland” from the First Millennium are today Islamic states. Yet we’ve managed to survive all this time by God’s providence. Is there a worse secularism than the state imposed atheism by the Communist rulers of Russia? Yet look at the Church in Russia today.

          The Orthodox are united, but our unity is not viewed in terms of world governance or external manifestations. Our unity is in our faith. At the end of the day, we can all celebrate Liturgy together and share in the same Eucharist and profess the same faith. Everything you describe here are worldly issues. I agree it’s sad that we can’t come to agreement about it. But theologically, we are sound. I can pick up a book from a Russian monk or a Greek monk and have no problems, no extended explanations.

  • diogenes1147

    Whiteford is just wrong! There are NO Orthodox theologians, priests or bishops who are advocating homosexual relationships as OK or not sinful. This is imagination on his part. Like the Pope, many Orthodox clerics are no longer judging these people, but to say their unions are “normal” or “not sinful” is Whiteford’s imagination. If the author wanted to quote a responsible Orthodox cleric or theologian, then he really shouldn’t turn to someone like Whiteford, but turn to real Orthodox theologians or mainstream clerics.

    • Gabriel S. Sanchez

      “There are NO Orthodox theologians, priests or bishops who are advocating homosexual relationships as OK or not sinful.”
      This statement is easily falsified. Just look at the work of David J. Dunn.

      • choyM

        You speak as if there are no advocates of homosexual marriage among the Roman Catholics. Sure, sadly enough there are Orthodox who think same sex marriage is okay or that one can support same sex marriage outside of the Church (such as legal unions), but everyone is entitled to their own opinions even though their opinions are wrong. It is something they need to work on fixing as they grow in the life of the Church, or not and then they will have to answer to God.
        Besides, who is David J. Dunn to the Orthodox Church?

        • http://onbehalfofall.org/ Gabe Martini

          He’s Gabriel Sanchez to the Catholic Church. Just an opinion among millions. Nothing to see here.

          • Gabriel S. Sanchez

            If there is nothing to see here, why are you reading and commenting on it?

      • http://onbehalfofall.org/ Gabe Martini

        He is neither a theologian, nor a priest, nor a bishop.

    • Hieromonk Ambrose

      The documentation Fr Whiteford provides is not well balanced. Why not, for example, quote the Orthodox Church of America’s Holy Synod?

      The Holy Synod said, “Homosexuality is to be approached as the result of humanity’s rebellion against God, and so against its own nature and well-being. It is not to be taken as a way of living and acting for men and women made in God’s image and likeness.” Could this be stated any more clearly?

  • Diane Kamer

    Years ago, a Catholic cyber-acquaintance quipped, “Eastern Orthodoxy is Episcopalianism waiting to happen.” At the time he was half-joking. Now his little witticism appears almost prescient.

    • http://onbehalfofall.org/ Gabe Martini

      You have to be entirely ignorant of the Orthodox Church to make such an absurd statement. Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy some more liturgical abuses videos on YouTube from the Pope.

    • choyM

      Actually, the Roman Catholic Church looks more like Episcopalianism. Go to their Liturgy and go to ours, see who you resemble the most.

      • Wendell Clanton

        There’s more to orthodoxy than meets the eye. Just because one has a “nice looking” liturgy, does not mean that the “Orthodox”, i.e., separated eastern brethren, or for that matter Anglicans of various flavours, can justify capitulation on divorce and contraception, for starters. While the eastern patriarchates were mired in heresy, Rome held firm to orthodox doctrine, and has done so since the foundation of the Church. So saith the ancient eastern and western Church Fathers. Christ left Peter in charge. Where there is Peter (i.e., his successor), there is the Church. Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia.

        • choyM

          That is a very simplistic and revisionist view of history. The reason why heresy often came from the East is because that is where the center of knowledge and learning is. How can any new thought come out of Rome when Rome practically did not exist for centuries in the First Millennium? The Papacy itself resided in Constantinople for quite a while because of this. Yet, Orthodoxy survives and stands despite the faults of our bishops. That is the difference between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. Our faith does not falter just because our Patriarchs become heretics. The Church is the body of Christ and it withstands the sins of its members. No one of these Patriarchs was able to change the faith of the Church.

          And it’s false to say that Rome held firm to Orthodoxy. Honorius was condemned by an Ecumenical Council. And of course the Great Schism was brought about by the embrace of a new theology, the Filioque. Just because Rome got it right on a few times, doesn’t mean that they get it right every time.

      • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

        Actually, this I agree with fully. The RC liturgy is dreadfully protestant.

  • Catholicon

    A certain Parable comes to mind beginning at Luke 19:12. Did you really think He was speaking of the money?

  • St. Mark of Ephesus

    There are a lot of things wrong with this article, from ignorance of history and Orthodox ecclesiology to a barely contained contempt. But undoubtedly the most glaring problem is Mr. Sanchez’ implicit assumption that we Orthodox view the Church, like Roman Catholics, as something to be “administered.” The Body of Christ is not a bureaucracy. It is not simply an institution. It is not a hierarchy for the efficient chastising of wayward clergy and laity. The Church is the theanthropic being whereby and wherein God works for the salvation of the entire human race. And Christ is Her head. Perhaps if he had ears to hear, Mr. Sanchez might have actually heard what his holy father had eyes to see as highly imitable in the Orthodox Church.

    • Catholicon

      Acts 20:28
      If Christ is The Head, and you believe it, then understand with Your Eyes what Christ Stated Himself;
      Matthew 16:17-19

      …. Search The Scripture and find another instance in which “My Church” is to be found as quoted.

      P.S. I suggest a new moniker for your account.

      • St. Mark of Ephesus

        The Orthodox understanding of Matthew 16:18 is that the “rock,” which in aramaic was a play on Cephas/Peter (Petros/petra), referred to Peter’s statement of faith. Though, that’s not to understate the importance of Peter’s role as first among the apostles. But there’s also nothing there that leads to universal ecclesiastical and dogmatic jurisdiction. Quite the contrary, Peter didn’t even preside at the council in Acts. Even statements of the Bishop of Rome accepted by later ecumenical councils were first examined by the other bishops for their orthodoxy. The history of the Church throughout all of its councils testifies to the synodality and conciliarity which mark her ecclesiology.

        You may certainly disagree, but this isn’t hard to understand.

      • http://onbehalfofall.org/ Gabe Martini

        And Peter’s see, as Pope St. Gregory the Great of Rome writes, is in three places: Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch. Whoops.

        • Diane Kamer

          Alexandria? Yep…whoops.

          And on this pentarchy I will build my Church.

          Said Jesus never.

    • Guest

      And who is your living authority?

      • Catholicon

        Since you ask, iConfess,
        Êlyon, the same as Christ’s !!

        • Guest

          Like the Protestants you each claim to be your own authority? Each claiming they interpret God’s law even while contradicting each other.

          • Catholicon

            I’m glad that you accepted my suggestion on the moniker, as for the rest of your last statement, you appear to lack the proper knowledge to which iNeed dignify with a response.
            Have a nice day!

            • Guest

              IOW, you have no answer.

              • Catholicon

                People tend to state such when they do not like the answer they receive, but iShall reserve the `error´ to be found in the first sentence of The Creed as a discussion for those I need discuss it with.
                Again, do have a nice day, and may it be free of incredulity.

                • Guest

                  Again, you have no answer. You choose to ignore a simple straight question.

                  • Catholicon

                    You asked and iConfessed The Answer!
                    Job 31:28
                    biblegateway. com/passage/?search=Job%2031&version=DRA

      • St. Mark of Ephesus

        Christ. Last I checked, He wasn’t dead.

    • Gabriel S. Sanchez

      I am not sure which aspects of my article you believe emanate from “ignorance of history and Orthodox ecclesiology”; I assure you, however, it was not written out of contempt, but rather as a warning to those within my own confession who, for various reasons, romanticize what they believe is the Eastern Orthodox Church’s mode of governance. That is the short and the long of it.

      • http://onbehalfofall.org/ Gabe Martini

        The problem is that you romanticize all of Church history, and then posit this over-reaction as if it is unique in the history of the faith. It isn’t, and there’s no impending doom on the horizon. Such an ecclesiology is Monophysitism, at best.

        • Gabriel S. Sanchez

          I do? Where?

  • Seraphim

    To the Roman Catholics here:

    A lot of you are arguing the superiority of the Roman Catholic Church because it has a singe, monarchical figure at its head in the pope. However there is a glaring issue with such an argument. What if the pope isn’t actually the infallible Vicar of Christ? If a monarch is leading you with vigor and efficiency, it doesn’t mean he knows where he is going. Before such an argument is made you must demonstrate that the pope is the legitimate head of the Roman Catholic Church (as Roman Catholics understand the role) and that the efficiency such a governing structure offers is a good thing.

    Anyways, thank you all for reminding me of the poor apologetics that led me out of the RCC.

    • patricia m.

      Wasn’t Christ who said to Peter, “thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”?

      • Seraphim

        Yes, but he did not say “… and you and the single line of successors to your episcopate shall have authority over all of Christendom and you shall have the authority to make infallible statements binding on the Church universal.” These extras do not necessarily follow from Matt. 16:18-19 and most the ECF’s didn’t interpret the verses in such a manner.

        What if the Chair of Peter belongs to all bishops? After all, the earliest Christians rallied around their local bishop for unity.

        • patricia m.

          Yes they did when the church was small. But even at that time they already had problems, remember, what about circumcision, what about this, what about that, problems that would only get worse as the community grew bigger. As stated in the text, and I don’t have any reason as to why not believe it, the bishops can have different opinions about a single issue…

          • choyM

            Anyone can have any opinion as long as it doesn’t cross the line of what has been deemed heretical.

          • http://onbehalfofall.org/ Gabe Martini

            There have always been “problems” related to the anthropos of the Church as a theanthropic communion. The Pope neither solves nor eliminates such.

        • TheAbaum

          Every protestant with a Bible is his or her own pope. Here we have demonstrable proof.

          Of course once you leave, you have to decide which of the Thirty thousand denominations with their wildly variant creeds all based on “Sola Scriptura” you’ll follow, and it leads to some interesting results, like the 70 year old woman I know who attended a Methodist Church all her life, but upon moving South attended a Baptist Church, apparently oblivious to the differences-all that matters is it’s not Catholic-which is why “Seraphim” can’t say why where he/she is right, and can only assert where he/she was is wrong.

          • patricia m.

            Just to make sure, am not a Protestant. Just quoted the Bible because Christ didn’t say hey Peter, James, Jude and all of you guys, y’all are my rock.

            • TheAbaum

              Not you, but Seraphim.

              “that led me out of the RCC.”

              I’m pretty sure I know you are observant. Nice to see you back. Have a nice namesake day on Monday.

          • Seraphim

            *Sigh* more terrible apologetics.

            First of all,. I am not protestant, but Eastern Orthodox. We are united by our adherence to the faith tradition once and for all given to the saints.

            Secondly, and more importantly, you have used the same old “the Pope guarantees unity” argument. This may be true, but it by no means necessarily follows that this is the only way in which unity might be guaranteed and it in no way guarantees truth. Mormons are united around their prophet, but that does not mean they teach a sound gospel, correct? You make the a priori assumption that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ without first demonstrating that he is. At this point you have no more basis for adhering to the pope than a Protestant has for adhering to his interpretation of the bible.

          • choyM

            The problem with this argument is every Roman Catholic must assent to the Pope and believe that they are incapable of discerning the truth. Is the Pope only the one capable of truth?

            If being Protestant means making yourself Pope, then the Pope of Rome is the first protestant. He surely made himself Pope starting with Unam Sanctam, a teaching that never existed previously.

            • TheAbaum

              “a teaching that never existed previously.”

              You mean like Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura? The “Rapture”?

              Protestantism is nothing but theological novelties.

              • choyM

                Unam Sanctam = Sola Papa

                • TheAbaum

                  And it only took you three days to contrive that, eh troll?

                  Just curious, why is it your history doesn’t show you commenting on sites devoted to Orthodoxy?

                  Is it that you only know what you aren’t, but not what you are-you are a masquerading troll fomenting acrimony or that you have “Papa Envy”?

                  Any way you slice it…

                  • choyM

                    Read your comments first and then look in the mirror to find out who is trolling here

                    • TheAbaum

                      I checked your history. You don’t post on any sites for Orthodoxy which might give some indication that you actually have some authentic belief, rather you just post acrimonious stuff here.

                      I don’t go on Orthodox sites and insult them.

                      Troll.

                    • choyM

                      Why do I have to answer your question? You’re the obvious troll here. You even make it a point to time how long I would respond to posts. Unlike you, I’m not obsessed with message boards and I only post when I have free time.

                      Your arguments are filled with false and petty conclusions and judgmental statements. Is that what you learn from going to all these Catholic sites?

                    • TheAbaum

                      So, you have such limited time you are limited to posting only insults and acrimony on Catholic sites, but me with my obsession, I have no time to go to Orthodox sites to insult the Orthodox.

                      In my limited interactions with Orthodox, they were nice folks who knew what they believed and could define it as something other than a rejection of Rome. I don’t believe you are Orthodox at all, I think you are a garden variety anti-Catholic, who a few decades ago would have burned a cross, hoping to start a war between Catholics and Orthodox and I’m not getting suckered into it.

        • Catholicon

          Read line 19 again….. as many times as it takes…..

        • HA

          Yes, but he did not say…

          And yet, for some 9 centuries, give or take, the Orthodox were able to stay in one church along with the West. Catholics today are asking no more from their Orthodox brethren than what they themselves believed throughout that first millenium.

          • choyM

            And that is that the Pope is not the supreme and infallible leader of the Church.

            • HA

              Infallibility of ex cathedra statements, or anything beyond the Gregorian era, are indeed precisely those teachings no one is asking you or anyone else in the EO to accept.

              • choyM

                But that is foolish. How can we be in communion with one another if something is a dogma to you and not to us? That is not communion. How can the left arm be connected to the same body as the right arm yet have different blood flowing through them? The Body of Christ is not a Frankenstein monster.

      • hombre111

        No pope used this verse in this way until the 4th. century.

        • patricia m.

          And…?

          • hombre111

            The ancient Church did not see it as pointing directly to the bishop of Rome.

            • HA

              Again, Gregory the Great certainly did, and both Catholics and Orthodox regard him as a saint.

              • hombre111

                And it wasn’t so long before his view of the papacy began to drive a wedge between the East and the West. Don’t get me wrong: I believe in the primacy of the pope, but as Pope John Paul himself said before driving the whole thing even further into the ground, we need to think the papacy through again if we want to reestablish the unity between East and West.

                • HA

                  And yet again, no one is asking the Orthodox to accept any more than what they believed before this “wedge” as you put it, began driving.

            • TomAbell

              Pope Victor, anyone?

      • http://onbehalfofall.org/ Gabe Martini

        Yes, and the greatest Pope of all time (arguably), St. Gregory the Great, says the See of Peter is in three places, not Rome alone.

        • Diane Kamer

          So what? One of those three places is Muslim now. I can’t fathom what you’re trying to prove.

    • TheAbaum

      So why is it all you apostates come here, something lacking in your new home?

      • Seraphim

        Promoting truth and correcting error is an essential calling for every Christian.

        • TheAbaum

          Well then quit propagating error.

      • choyM

        Well, who is it here writing an article about those not of their Church?

        • TheAbaum

          Non Sequitur.

    • HA

      A lot of you are arguing the superiority of the Roman Catholic Church because it has a single, monarchical figure at its head in the pope.

      What is being discussed here is whether the lack of clear primacy among the Orthodox is something that Catholicism should emulate. If you think that Catholics believe that a “single monarchial figure” as you so tendentiously put it, is what makes their church “superior” (as opposed to believing that the papacy is simply a more faithful adherence to Jesus’s instructions on how His church should be built, and also to his prayer that we all may be one and undivided), then you are letting your defensiveness on the topic get the best of you.

      Also, I doubt that Gregory the Great — you know, the pope regarded as a saint by both branches of our church — would buy into that “what-if-the-chair-belongs-to-all-the-bishops” idea. It was our previous pope Benedict who wisely said that all he would hope from Orthodox believers with regards to the papacy is that which they themselves adhered to in Gregory’s day. I hope and pray that the Orthodox have not collectively modernized themselves beyond ever believing what they once did, but given all the other innovations we have seen of late, who can say?

      And for what it’s worth, the call to unity and to stay true to Jesus’s prayer that we may be one – which is what really animates Catholic views on the papacy – does have a dark side, and is often a difficult cross to bear. Because inevitably, it means that one side or another will wind up getting suppressed.

      • choyM

        What innovations?

        • HA

          What innovations?

          If you are asking sincerely, I suggest you should re-read the article more closely.

          • choyM

            We have none. I suggest you look at the First Millennium Church and compare it to your own today. In fact, you need not go beyond 50 years ago to find many innovations.

            • HA

              We have none.

              If you believe that, then I think further discussion on that particular matter is pointless.

              • choyM

                No, I can affirm that we have none. A hallmark of Orthodoxy is our insistence to test any new idea against the teachings of the Fathers, from the Apostles to everyone else who has been elevated to such a stature. We don’t take the word of someone today just because of their rank or title. A teaching is Orthodox because it is consistent with the faith that has been passed down once and for all to the Apostles, and consistently taught through the centuries. Yes, there are external changed to our praxis, but this is natural because the Church, being the body of Christ, is living. But the blood that flows in this body is the same. In fact, we still celebrate 3 of the oldest Liturgies in existence, the ones written by St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great, and St. James the Great.

                • HA

                  In other words, “Who are you going to believe — me, or your own eyes?”

                  At least when Groucho said it, he *intended* it to be humourous.

      • choyM

        Also, unity must be based on truth. We can’t be united for the sake of being united, that is not unity. Even evil can be united. Read Acts, there were those who “with one mind” banded together to kill St. Paul. Understand that Orthodoxy sees everything in the faith ontologically, that is matters of faith aren’t just intellectual arguments, but states of being. For us to be united, it’s not just about coming to an agreement in the sense that countries would make treaties today. If we are in agreement, it means that we do believe in the same faith, we live our Christian faith exactly the same way. Anything less than that is not unity.

  • Joseph

    I was also told by ROCOR folks not to attend New Calendar (Gregorian calendar) Churches, because “those are not truly Orthodox”. They had a big problem with the Greek, Romanian, Antiochian etc. EO Churches which celebrate Christmas on December 25. ROCOR is an Old Calendar (Julian calendar) Church and it celebrates Christmas on January 7.

    When I was involved with it, ROCOR was out of communion also with the Moscow Patriarchate, for reasons unrelated to the Calendar. ROCOR was out of communion with every other EO church within a radius of hundreds of miles from me. It was like “only we are correct, these other folks have fallen into apostasy (Moscow Patriarch – communist collaborator) or heresy (Greek, Antiochian, etc – because of the New Calendar)”.

    I wonder whether ROCOR is still so adamant that all the EO Churches following the New Calendar are heretics. In their defense, within EO Churches there used to be a wide consensus for 300 years that anyone adopting the New Calendar is anathema. I have seen a long list of EO anathemas passed against New Calendar Churches, and in the earlier consensus, many EO Patriarchs agreed to these anathemas, including the EP of Constantinople and the Moscow Patriarch.

    • choyM

      That is not true anymore. I go to a ROCOR monastery and I am OCA (we are on the “new” calendar). In fact, I came on a day when a certain Great Feast was celebrated by those in the Julian Calendar. The Abbot of the monastery didn’t kick us out, he knew we were OCA and are on the new calendar. I don’t think that is even universally true even during the time ROCOR was out of communion. But those who are in communion today have no problems with those on the new calendar. They may have an opinion on it, but certainly not to the point they think we’re heretics.

      • Joseph

        Thanks for the update. So, if I understand you correctly, you are welcome to attend ROCOR and to present yourself to Holy Communion in the ROCOR monastery, even though you belong to OCA which is on the New Calendar. That’s all very good news, together with the fact that ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate have reconciled and they are now in full communion with each other.

  • choyM

    Actually the Roman Catholic Church has a lot to learn from the Orthodox in these regards. What may appear to everyone as petty bickering is actually the strength of a conciliar Church that discerns the truth. Giving everyone an equal voice in every matter of the Church ensures that all sides are discerned. If Moscow did not contradict Constantinople in the meaning of Primacy, how will we know who’s right or wrong? This has been the process all along and this can be seen in the acts of the councils of past centuries. In fact, putting the faith in the hands of so few such as a magisterium or the Pope (who is above all bishops) has a greater potential to lead one to error, rather than let the matter be discussed by everyone and let the truth come out of it. By virtue of our baptism, we all receive the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Truth. So by that we all should all have the capacity to discern the truth and since the truth is absolute, only through agreement by all can we know what the truth really is.
    Also, it is very dishonest to cite seemingly random Orthodox people and say that this is representative of what Orthodoxy is. That is not the case. Unlike Roman Catholicism who believes in the infallibility of one person, there is nothing like that in Orthodoxy. Even Patriarchs can be heretics (and we admit to it) but the Church does not fall down because of that precisely because the truth is in the Church (being the body of Christ) and not on one person or a portion of the members.

    I agree with dmd53 here. We have our problems, you have your problems. This is where speck meets log. Best to look at ourselves and our Churches and fix our own issues. Trying to pin point what’s wrong with the other guy is uncharitable and prideful (Pharisee’s prayer, “Lord, thank you that I am not like them.”)

    • Joseph

      Dear Brother, I’m not so sure that pointing out what we see as an error in another person’s religion is done out of pride. It may be due to pride, but not necessarily.

      I almost converted from Catholicism to Eastern Orthodoxy. But I couldn’t handle the situation where ROCOR was telling me that they alone were correct, and all others were apostates and heretics. Moscow has fallen into apostasy, and all the New Calendar Churches have fallen into heresy – that was ROCOR’s stance. I realized, at the end of the day I would have to submit to ROCOR’s Metropolitans, Bishops, and Priests, and reject the OCA, the Greek, Antiochian, Romanian, and most all EO Churches as “heretics”. That got me thinking about all these Bishops who keep fighting each other, calling each other heretics.

      In the end, I accepted the Catholic Church’s position as making most logical sense: that God will supernaturally protect Peter, and his successor the Pope, from falling into heresy. Thus, I chose to embrace Catholicism instead of Orthodoxy, because it made most sense, and it still makes most sense to me.

      But I have to tell you, I left part of my heart in the Orthodox Church. I regularly read about the lives of Russian Orthodox saints, including St. John Maximovitch of Shanghai and San Francisco, Saint Philaret the Confessor, St. Innocent of Aleut and Kuril Islands, St. Herman of Alaska, St. Peter the Aleut, St. Seraphim of Sarov, St. Xenia of Petersburg, and so on. I keep learning about the monks of Mount Athos, about the holy relics and wonder-working icons of the Orthodox Church, and so on.

      I am a Catholic, I will go to my grave a Catholic, but I am very much invested emotionally into Orthodoxy, and I pray for a day when our Churches will reconcile.

      • choyM

        Joseph, we have our own share of dissidents the same way that you have your RadTrads, notable the SSPX. Like I said in echoing dmd53, we have our problem, you have yours.

        And articles like this are written out of pride. Why? Because you have one person who understands nothing about the other side criticizing them. Sorry, Orthodoxy isn’t something that you learn in books, it is something that you only understand when you live it. I was Roman Catholic for 33 years. Before I became Orthodox I thought I knew Orthodoxy. But even today despite the time invested in learning about the faith, I know I barely have scratched the surface. If I were to criticize the Roman Catholic Church, I would do so with much credibility based on my experience as a Roman Catholic. I wonder how much Gabriel Sanchez knows about the Orthodox Church outside a handful of bloggers and his interpretation of events.

        • Gabriel S. Sanchez

          I was an Orthodox Christian for seven years. (I was brought up originally in Eastern Catholicism.) Members of my family are still Orthodox. I have friends who are Orthodox, including clergy. You can say what you want about my ideas and interpretation, but speculating on the state of my soul (“written out of pride”) and reaching a conclusion, sans evidence, on my knowledge of and experience in Orthodoxy is risible.

          • choyM

            Touche, Gabriel. But still why criticize us? I can write a book of criticism of Roman Catholicism, but I won’t because that is foolish. If it is in discussion with friends, I would offer my opinions as opinions. But that is a private discussion, not a public criticism. I’m not here to judge your soul, as you know we Orthodox believe in essence and energies, and I cannot approach your essence. But I do judge your work, ie. your energies, because it is what I can experience here (through reading). So my judgement isn’t for your entire personhood, but this article which is written by you, is prideful.

    • Gabriel S. Sanchez

      In my experience, Orthodox — particularly Anglophone Orthodox who suffer from an inferiority complex due to the “backwater” status of America — are unduly sensitive to anything that looks like criticism. While you are free to disagree with my stance against the Orthodox mode of governance, please keep in mind that it was intended only to alert Catholics, not to admonish the Orthodox by advocating they change their ways. (That’s really not my place, and honestly, the only “change” I want to see coming out of Orthodoxy is reunification with Rome.)

      • David

        You say that you were not intending to “admonish” the Orthodox, but this article was quite hostile to us. You claim you were Orthodox for seven years, so you should know that we are united in Faith and Communion, but not necessarily in administration. The two need not be synonymous, even though that is the Latin understanding. I am under the EP but I could fly to Moscow next week and receive Holy Communion there…or I could go to Damascus and receive Communion there. ONE Faith. We are united in the Liturgy and the Eucharist, under our Bishops. That is our unity….the picture you have painted of us is disingenuous and sad.

        • Guest

          The notion one can gloss of the papacy as not that critical is to deny the obvious.

          • David

            The Faith has gone on without the Latin Patriarch. Patriarchates come and go…the Moscow Patriarchate disappeared for awhile, but that didn’t gum up the works.
            I trust in God’s promise.

            • Guest

              Valid sacraments and liturgy do not mean all is well or correct. Christ left a Pope. He was not minimizing or rationalizing away the necessity. Wounds against unity are not God’s ordained will.

              • David

                The Church isn’t a “Sacrament dispenser.”

                We do not view the Papacy in the same way as you do. We have a VERY different take on those historical events. That is as charitably as I can put it.

                Wounds against Unity are lamentable. But Christ left us his Apostles, and his Church is here, now. All of the Apostles acting in concert….No Apostle would dominate the others….”It would not be so with you….” As it was with the Gentiles.

        • Gabriel S. Sanchez

          I would encourage you to re-read the article and reflect a bit more on what I was focused on. Even so…
          Yes, one could commune in an EP parish and then an MP one — for now. But you are being disingenuous to not acknowledge that the practice of local Orthodox jurisdictions breaking communion with each other has been commonplace, even in recent times. For most of the 20th C. ROCOR and the MP were out of communion with each other. Following the 2007 reunification, ROCOR and the OCA were still leery about intercommunion (though I heard that has changed). Antioch and Jerusalem have broken communion over Qatar, and numerous other jurisdictions have communion breaks over territories in Estonia, Czech Republic, Macedonia and Ukraine. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I am missing a few here.
          Again, I think Orthodox, particularly Anglophone Orthodox, suffer from being too thin-skinned. Anything that casts doubt on a very romanticized — and ultimately inaccurate — account of your communion is taken as a savage attack. It seems to me that the better route would be to reflect critically on these matters with an eye toward sorting them out. Perhaps the 2016 Council, if it happens, will make good on that possibility. I am not holding my breath, however.

          • David

            Family members fight sometimes. Who says anyone is romanticizing? I certainly am not, and sometimes the Men in Black fight over one thing or another. What is at issue here is this: Latins and the Orthodox have quite different ideas of what “Unity” means.
            Church affairs are messy, frustrating and all too human. What we have is the Faith, and the Tradition that was given to us by the Apostles and by Christ. I share one Faith with all of my Orthodox brethren….There is a lot of crankiness towards the EP in World Orthodoxy….doesn’t phase me a bit, and I would kiss the Moscow Patriarchs hand or commune with the most ill tempered anti-Constantinople person….
            Why? Because we are all one Faith. You don’t even see what you are doing….to bolster your own position, you are attempting to discredit us. You have to paint us as a bunch of disunified, phyletist cranks. That isn’t over sensitivity, that is what you are doing.
            It is sad.

      • choyM

        Speck meets log again, Gabriel. Lots of Roman Catholics rush to “defend” anything they perceive as an attack of their faith. I was a very involved Roman Catholic and thus had many friends and acquaintances in the faith. When news of my conversion broke out, they were lining up to “defend” Roman Catholicism, especially the necessity of the Papacy. And I did not even say anything against it to them. And to this day there are lots who take offense when I explain my faith even though Roman Catholicism isn’t even in the context of my explanation. My priest was criticized in the same way when he wrote a reactionary piece to something Pope Francis said a while back. And it wasn’t even negative or anything, in fact he just used Pope Francis’ words as a jumping off point for his article, and anything critical in the article isn’t about the Pope or the Roman Catholic faith. Yet Roman Catholics took it negatively.
        I can say that many Orthodox are overzealous here in North America because they are converts.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    In his Principles of Catholic Theology, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (as he then was) wrote

    “Certainly, no one who claims allegiance to Catholic theology can simply declare the doctrine of primacy null and void, especially not if he seeks to understand the objections and evaluates with an open mind the relative weight of what can be determined historically. Nor is it possible, on the other hand, for him to regard as the only possible form and, consequently, as binding on all Christians the form this primacy has taken in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries… in other words, Rome must not require more from the East with respect to the doctrine of primacy than had been formulated and was lived in the first millennium. When the Patriarch Athenagoras, on July 25, 1967, on the occasion of the Pope’s visit to Phanar, designated him as the successor of St. Peter, as the most esteemed among us, as one also presides in charity, this great Church leader was expressing the essential content of the doctrine of primacy as it was known in the first millennium. Rome need not ask for more. Reunion could take place in this context if, on the one hand, the East would cease to oppose as heretical the developments that took place in the West in the second millennium and would accept the Catholic Church as legitimate and orthodox in the form she had acquired in the course of that development, while, on the other hand, the West would recognize the Church of the East as orthodox and legitimate in the form she has always had.”

    • Joseph

      Thanks for posting this!

    • Ib

      Yes, it’s important to insert some genuine historical theology by a master to give a more accurate perspective on the issues than reflected by simplistic posts based on a skewed view of both ancient Churches.

      Curiously, the original post is written as a correction to Pope Francis, who has been sympathetic to Orthodox ecclesiology. The author propounds his non-Papal, anti-Orthodox views to teach Pope Francis a thing or two about the errors he is making … Dodgy that … It is good to remember that Mr. Sanchez is not the Pope, nor a Bishop, nor a priest, nor even a deacon. He is a layman with an axe to grind. Consider the source …

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        In the same spirit, I would offer this quotation from Bl John Henry Newman, “But, anyhow, the progress of concentration was not the work of the Pope; it was brought about by the changes of times and the vicissitudes of nations. It was not his fault that the Vandals swept away the African sees, and the Saracens those of Syria and Asia Minor, or that Constantinople and its dependencies became the creatures of Imperialism, or that France, England, and Germany would obey none but the author of their own Christianity, or that clergy and people at a distance were obstinate in sheltering themselves under the majesty of Rome against their own fierce kings and nobles or imperious bishops”

  • http://www.saintjonah.org/ frjohnwhiteford

    Gabriel, while it is true that there are laymen in good standing and even some clergy who have promoted homosexual marriage as acceptable, the clergy who do so usually equivocate to some extent, In the Roman Catholic Church, you have have the same problem and yet even with a Pope, your Church has not only not done a better job, but has a gay problem among the clergy to an extent that is much deeper and more serious, as the recent PBS Frontline “Secrets of the Vatican” reveal in excruciating detail.

    • Gabriel S. Sanchez

      The purpose of the article, as I am sure you could tell, was to offer Roman Catholics an account of why they should neither romanticize, nor be enthused for, the Orthodox model of governance. It was not intended as a “comparative piece” whereby I line up the list of problems in both confessions and draw the winner. It would be helpful if you, and other Orthodox critics, would stick to the point of the article rather than attempt to drag in other, distracting, issues. I am not saying those issues aren’t important, but they are beyond the scope of this intentionally limited piece.

      • choyM

        Being Roman Catholic for 33 years and now being Orthodox, despite the outward appearance of discord, I think the Orthodox model of governance is superior to that of Rome. Besides, our ecclesiology is based on the Eucharist and the Trinity, Rome’s is a modern innovation.

    • HA

      PBS Frontline “Secrets of the Vatican”

      I saw that program too, but we obviously drew different conclusions. I saw repeated efforts by Benedict to reform the Vatican being scuttled by acting too collegially and too timidly when it came to stepping on fellow clerics’ robes. If he were the “monarchial” figure some of the EO commenters have claimed here, then his task would have met with far more success. If you’re arguing for a more dicatorial papacy, I’d say you were doing a good job of it.

  • Hal Smith

    Actually, the contraception issue is a good example of how the Eastern Orthodox model is better. Orthodox are better able to revise positions and grant allowances. This allows Orthodox to discourage contraception but not ban it, or to treat it as a secondary issue, which it certainly is, because an unfertilized seed is not a person yet. The “forceful” Roman model however, by banning contraception in an absolutist way, leads to a situation where a huge number of Catholics are engaging in a practice that is not just discouraged but banned outright. It raises a secondary issue to one of first importance, which it is not. And this issue goes as far as to keep the R.C. church from donating to major charities that happen to use condoms. This policy and “forceful” system is shown to be counterproductive, absolutist, and puritannical about an issue that is much less important than others like abortion, death penalty, war, poverty, etc. etc.

    The Eastern Orthodox model is better because it allows flexibility and treating things as secondary issues when in fact they are.

    • HA

      allows flexibility and treating things as secondary issues when in fact they are.

      In Catholicism, when someone says “secondary issues”, what he is usually really trying to say is “teachings I have no interest in following, and which make therefore make me favor churches that don’t pester me about them”.

      I’m not sure how it works in EO circles, but you are short-changing your brethren by trumpeting any such “flexibility” as an advantage.

      • Raccko

        Hello, HA. Fortunately, it is not really cheating brethren. For example, one such controversy is the use of calendars and another is whether women have to wear veils. I believe that women should wear headcovering and that we should use the Gregorian calendar. Most Orthodox in America think that we should use the Gregorian calendar and our women don’t like covering. Neither I nor they think that this is a primary issue though. It is not helpful for use to have a leader who dictates to use that we must all follow that issue like robots. If it did, many of our women would not attend if they had to wear headcoverings. And if they weren’t to do so, the conservative women would not come.

        It is important to recognize that this is a secondary issue and we are not going to split our Orthodox Church over secondary issues. Encouraging people to follow less important Orthodox customs instead of forcing them to follow everything like it was Issue Number One distinguishes us from stereotypes of phariseeism anyway.

        • HA

          That is a thoughtful response, and one worth noting. Horological disputes do indeed fall outside the realm of what most Americans regard as secondary issues. However, I will remind you that numerous EO branches have had major disputes and anathemas related to old and new calendars, some of which other commenters have already detailed, though there are
          numerous other examples that could be cited.

      • Guest

        Exactly. No pope makes everyone a pope.

        • choyM

          The Pope isn’t the only person on earth who received the Holy Spirit and knows the truth (the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth). The difference with Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicsm and also with Protestantism is conciliarity. Everyone can surely make their own opinions, but it has to be checked with everyone else, and above all, checked against the established teachings by the Fathers. If it doesn’t pass the test, then such an idea should be thrown out. But it doesn’t make people “their own pope” or mindless drones waiting for instructions from the supreme, infallible one.

    • choyM

      The thing is that contraception is not a flat issue that the RCC makes it to be. In Orthodoxy it is analyzed in many different angles, from a family’s ability to raise kids, to its place in one’s spiritual growth, all the while not losing the perspective that one needs to have control over one’s passions which includes the sexual urges. So the allowance of contraception in Orthodoxy isn’t meant to tell the husband and the wife to just give in to their urges all the time. In fact, we have so many fasting days throughout the year that contraception isn’t even necessary half the time because the couple can’t do it anyway.

  • tom

    All churches have problems all the time. Yet, the Orthodox is in pretty good shape. compared to the Roman side of the aisle where we’ve splintered into thousands of different sects. The Orthodox can mend itself, especaily in alliance with government. The Roman is at loggerheads with the majority party which wants it dead and buried.

    Doctrinally, one can argue about divorce or contraception, but healing the comminuted fracture of thousands of splinters from the 16th century will require…a miracle.

  • Pingback: Duke’s Sex Star & Pope Francis’ Lenten Intentions - BigPulpit.com

  • James

    It is no exaggeration that a faithful Orthodox Christian can go to three
    different priests in the same American city and receive three disparate
    answers expressing everything from absolute prohibition to prohibition
    of abortifacient only to complete permissibility.

    On the other hand, if a Catholic goes to three different priests in an American city, he’s far less likely to hear that contraception is prohibited.

    Yes, the Papacy is a strength of the Catholic Church over Orthodoxy, but that’s because without it, the West would quickly embrace one heresy or another. That’s nothing to brag about.

  • Elisa

    I read and own “Russian Church and the Papacy” by Vladmir Soloviev who was a convert to Catholicism. It’s an abridged version of “Russia and the Universal Church.” He makes a case why the Orthodox Church should be united with Rome. It’s a readable book.

    The book is available on Amazon if you’d like to read it: http://www.amazon.com/Russian-Church-Papacy-Vladimir-Soloviev/dp/1888992298

    • bonaventure

      Of course it would be ideal that Catholics and Orthodox be united.

      Tell us, however, do you blame the Orthodox?

      They prefer the pettiness of their own little quarrels, than having to be “united” with clown masses, rainbow masses and rainbow sash priests, spandex-clad liturgical dancers, MILLIONS UPON MILLIONS of under-catechized and gullible Catholics who believe that homosexuals can, after all, “marry” (the poor dears, who are we to forbid them?), women should be ordained to the priesthood, etc, etc, etc.

      Before any unity, the Catholics would need to clean up their own MAJOR mess, rather than trying to clean up the MINOR mess that the Orthodox are in.

      After that, the Orthodox may very well want to talk reunion.

      • choyM

        I agree with this wholeheartedly. Being formerly RCC, it’s not even these extreme cases of clown masses (let’s admit, there’s like one or two cases of these, ever) but that even the everyday Liturgical experience in Roman Catholic parishes is very, very Protestant. Even my experience of Novus Ordo from 20-30 years ago does not compare. But today Protestant theology has infected Roman Catholicism in so many levels, it’s not surprising that even in parishes that don’t go bonkers with these innovations, you still find a lot of Protestantism in beliefs and practices. And a lot of these are sanctioned by the Vatican! There are lay prosperity gospel preachers out there, as well as the Catholic Charismatic Movement, which is just Pentecostalism in communion with Rome.

  • bonaventure

    Gabriel,

    I feel that you are under-stating the Catholic “liberal-conservative” divide in the Church. Too many Catholics claim to be “one” and “united” under a bishop, a collegiality of bishops, and a pope, while many (MANY!) aren’t even Catholic anymore.

    As for the Orthodox, your drilling the possibility that some of them accept homosexual “marriage” — or maybe will accept it in the future — does not reflect Orthodox reality at all, whereby only a microscopic minority of heretical Orthodox actually believe it… while DOZENS (or hundreds?) of MILLIONS of Catholics worldwide now believe in homosexual “marriage,” and most priests and bishops remain silent.

    And if any other Orthodox church ever started blessing homosexual “marriage,” the remaining Orthodox churches would immediately excommunicate this church — without qualms for “diplomacy” for the sake of “unity” etc. Just ask the Nestorians. The Arians. The Monophysites.

    The Orthodox have always had the most outspoken theologians against heresies from the earliest days. They — not the West — combated all major heresies. And today the most outspoken Christians against such abberations as homosexual “marriage” are, again, the Orthodox (specifically the Russians…. which in today’s world probably earns them the much coveted title of “Third Rome”).

    But hey, we Catholics have a great recent quote to rely on, don’t we? “Who Am I to Judge?”

    Can’t wait to see where that fabulous and, oh so tolerant, quote will take us at the Synod in October. Just don’t ask the Pope favorite theologian, Walter Kasper. One might have a heart attack once this one unwraps it all (no wonder both John Paul and Benedict kept that one very close, and very insignificant, all these years). Oh, brother. We might yet envy the Orthodox for the pettiness of their quarrels.

    God forbid.

    • Gabriel S. Sanchez

      This thread is nearing its shelf life, so I will try to close it out with a final remark. As I suspected when I first wrote this article, an overwhelming majority of its Orthodox readers, for reasons I won’t bother to speculate on right now, failed to take the piece as a whole but instead latched on to anything which was negative or less-than-praiseworthy concerning Orthodoxy, specifically its governance structure. Numerous critics have chastise me for “missing something” while routinely failing to specify what that “something” is. A bland statement that I do not understand Orthodox history says almost nothing. Similarly, the risible statements of some that I am essentially ignorant of Orthodoxy because I am not Orthodox or haven’t “experienced Orthodoxy” are not even worth addressing in a serious manner. As is clear from the text, I did not write this piece to tally up the faults of each confession and go, “And the winner is…” I did not even drill down into Orthodoxy’s deepest and most upsetting problems. Instead, I gave a hard look to the nature of its confederate-style governance and offered a strong plea for caution to those within my own communion who tend to romanticize the Orthodox governance model and argue that it should be transplanted to Rome. That would be, in my estimation, a disaster — and this article offers a powerful example of why in the penultimate paragraph. The concluding paragraph, which apparently few of my critics bothered to read (they were perhaps too incensed by my temerity to make mention of Orthodoxy’s problems), gave honest praise to what the Roman Church could most fruitfully learn from the Orthodox. I pray that happens sooner rather than later.

      • bonaventure

        Thanks for your reply.

        If you are worried that an Orthodox-model of Church governance would be bad for the Catholic Church, your are right. That would be a disaster, considering the flagrant and widespread dissent in the Catholic Church from the essentials of Catholic dogma, doctrine, and morality.

        But to conclude that the Orthodox model is, therefore, inferior, is a stretch too far. In fact, if the Orthodox model of church governance is indeed problematic, the fact they are have remained faithful — and orthodox — throughout the centuries only shows that we, Catholics, have much to learn from them. But not from their Church governance; but rather from their faith.

        Finally,and if what user choyM wrote earlier is true (about an Orthodox bishop who tore down an Orthodox parish church and sold its wood for timber after a heretical priest officiated there at a homosexual “marriage”), then I am still waiting for this to happen in a Catholic diocese. But I am afraid that now, if such an aberration (the homosexual “marriage”) happened in a Catholic church parish, the answer would be, “who I am to judge?”

        Again, thanks for answering and, even as you defend the Catholic Church, never forget this words by Christ himself: “Will the Son of Man find faith on earth when he returns?”

        Jesus Christ is our reality check.

    • choyM

      You are correct, bonaventure. In both our Churches there are people who advocate things contrary to our established doctrines and dogma. That doesn’t mean the Church itself will adhere to those false teachings. Case in point, in Russia not too long ago, a priest performed an Orthodox marriage for a same-sex couple. When the bishop found out, he defrocked the priest and had the church building torn down and the lumber of the building be sold (I’m surprised he didn’t turn them into firewood).
      So here is an example of a priest supporting false belief, and a bishop responding with what the Orthodox teaching is. His actions also making a huge statement.

  • Hieromonk Ambrose

    I agree – Rubbish! Instead of innuendo and rumours perhaps one should look at the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops’
    official stance: http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/news/2012/marriage-and-moral-crisis

    • Hieromonk Ambrose

      Pope Benedict himself thinks that Orthodoxy has everything – except the
      Papacy. But he states that even without the papacy and without the Magisterium
      we have kept the faith intact.

      Pope Benedict::

      “While the West may point to the absence of the office of Peter in the
      East—it must, nevertheless, admit that, in the Eastern Church, the form and
      content of the Church of the Fathers is present in unbroken continuity”

      ~”Principles of Catholic Theology,” Cardinal Ratzinger, Ignatius Press,
      1987.

      Unwittingly the Pope has proclaimed that the papacy is not necessary for
      the preservation of the true faith.

      The Orthodox steadfast witness and adherence to the Apostolic faith since
      Rome and the East parted company is startling proof that neither the Papacy nor
      the Magisterium (seen as so essential by Rome) are at all necessary for the
      preservation of the Faith.

  • Hieromonk Ambrose

    Fr Whiteford is mistaken in his estimation of the acceptance of gay marriage and gay relationships. One may examine these two statements from the American Orthodox bishops:

    http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/news/2012/marriage-and-moral-crisis

    http://assemblyofbishops.org/about/documents/2013-assembly-statement-on-marriage-and-sexuality

  • Hieromonk Ambrose

    Is there any reason why my comment has been removed twice? Your article is currently being discussed on clergy lists and a bishop asked me to inform you of the statements promulgated by the Episcopal Assembly of North America.

  • Hieromonk Ambrose

    So we take it that you choose to suppress the truth as set out by our bishops and wish to present the opinions of Fr Whiteford as authoritative. I believe that your know little about Orthodoxy, and your mistake in quoting Whiteford,
    who represents no one but his own opinions, is proof of it.

  • Valentin

    And this boys and girls is why we have a pope.

  • Pingback: Чему не стоит учиться у восточных православных церквей | Ideas for God

  • publiusnj

    The Eastern Orthodox never met a secular ruler they wouldn’t obey. For that reason, when the Mohammedan Sultan, who replaced the Christian Emperor of Byzantium upon the conquest of Constantinople, told the Eastern Orthodox to break off their Reunion with Rome arranged by both the Emperor and the Patriarch 13 years or so before, they simply asked: “how high?”

  • dmw

    One of the first points made in the article concerns overlapping Orthodox “jurisdictions.” Let us not forget that the Catholic Church has the exact same problem, one with perhaps even more dire consequences. There are, for example, three Catholic Patriarchs of Antioch: Gregory III Laham, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Alexandria, and Jerusalem of the Greek Melkites; Ignatius Joseph III Yonan, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East of the Syrians; and Bechara Boutros Rahi, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and the Whole Levant. In the United States, multiple Eastern eparchies overlap with Roman dioceses. Until relatively recently (ecclesiasically speaking), Roman Catholics couldn’t fulfill their Sunday obligation by attending Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgies (that has changed today!). In North America there is the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the ordination of Eastern Catholic married men to the clerical state, namely, it is more or less forbidden!

  • Thomas J. Hennigan

    “Ex oriente lux”. Not much of it. As for the following statement: the barrage of banalities and (sometimes literal) clownishness which invaded Roman Rite worship in the wake of Vatican II.” This is not the result of the actual approved rites but the aberrations of some clowning clergy. Sacrosanctum Concilium states that nobody, neither priests or anyone else is allowd to change ANYTHING in the liturgy. The lack of discipline in the Church is another matter, but not just discipline.
    It seems to me that the great problems of Orthodoxy come from Cesaropapism. St. Amrbose told the Emperor that he was not in charge of the Church and that he had to sit in the Church in the same place any the rest of the faithful, something which would been unheard of in the East. As for the MP, again it is a matter of politics and putting itself in the hands of Putin for the creation of the New Russian Empire.

    There has been plenty of talk about Roman centralism, but if we have look at the history of the Church since the Council of Trent, with such dangers as Galicanism, Febronianism, Josephinism and others trying to create their own national churches, if we hadn’t had Roman centralism, we would not have the one Western Church we have now. Yes, with Vatican II there have been efforts to loosen up and bring in more collegiality. However, it seems to be that Pope Francis is no expert either in theology or the history of the Church and he would be well advised to consult real experts before implementing some of the things he has been proposing. In the 5th century Pope Leo used to have yearly meeting with the bishops of the area around Rome and they helped him decide on the major issues, but he did not renounce his clear convction of him being the “Vicar of St. Peter”. There were other regional councils, such as those of Toledo and Carthage, but on the matter of Pelagianism the African bishops were in contact with Rome. Pops Zozimus didn’t seem to understand the seriousness of the problem at the beginning, but later thanks to the interventions of the African bishops he did. I don’t think it is a good idea to give more power to Bishop´s Conferences and Cardinal Ratzinger was right when he denounced the bureaucracy of the German one and made sure that the document of St. JP II on them would limit their power. My own opinion is that bishops would be well advised to give more importance to pastoral visits of their own diocese than getting in vovled in more Bishops Conference bureaucracy.
    I would assume and hope that Pope Francis is not reckless and that he is not going to go tinkering with matters which involve a delicate balance and not make changes which will only make things worse.

MENU