Am I Guilty of Schism and/or Heresy?


I’m Catholic and I believe in the teachings of the Church and consider myslf pretty orthodox. However I have more of a general feeling than a firm belief that one day when the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches are united they will do it on the basis that all the councils between the great schism and the reunification were not valid because they were only regional. So, this would allow the dogma on the primacy of the Pope to be modified to something both sides would agree on, and possibly the Marian dogmas that were defined in the last two centuries would be left undefined.

This is more just a hypothesis than anything. Am I in danger of schism or am I already a heretic? What should I do?


The Church will not/cannot unsay the revealed truths it has expressed in its dogmas, but your confessor - a fully orthodox one, I hope! - would tell you in what danger you have placed yourself. I would recommend a daily Act of Faith and time before the Blessed Sacrament to be at peace with the Faith you have received through Christ’s Church and to pray for true unity of all believers.


relax, a heretic must knowingly believe and teach error of faith in the Church. Speculation on the future is speculation. It sounds you are lacking confidence in the Pope & Mary but that seems rather short of knowingly teach against the Church


I agree. Ask a priest at your church if you can come and talk to him about this until you have it resolved in your mind and heart. We all have had questions we could not answer on our own. That’s why Jesus gave us the Church. Praise God!


Profess and believe fully the faith that we have received. Let those in charge of such things worry about ecumenical matters. It’s very easy to fall into intellectual desolation if you were too much about things that you are neither authorized nor qualified to resolve.

Believe with a divine and Catholic faith the dogmas we have, hold the doctrines that must be held, and pray for the reunion of the Eastern Churches. That’s all you can do :slight_smile:


Well, Cardinal Ratzinger once suggested something like this (long before becoming Pope). I am of course in no position to say what is or is not heretical by the standards of your Church.



You’re not a heretic nor a schismatic, just a cynic. :wink:

There is always the possibility that the Orthodox will come toward Rome, too. Look at the reaction of Eastern Europe and Polish Catholics toward the pontificate of John Paul II.


Actually, you are. All one need know is the dogmatic teachings and teachings a heretical Catholic proclaims which contradict them.

In this case, I’m hard-pressed to see what dogma is being violated. One may sin by despair or lack of charity, but unless you hold fast to a teaching against Catholic dogma, you aren’t a heretic.


I don’t see that happening. This would entail the Catholic Church admitting that it is incorrect on some matter of doctrine.


Well, first we’d have to BE incorrect.


I refer you to my many statements on the Islam-related threads to the effect that outsiders can’t judge what is or is not a legitimate part of a tradition. Admittedly in this case it’s a bit different, both because I am partially united to the Catholic Church (as Vatican II says) and consider becoming fully united (i.e., I accept to some extent the presuppositions of your tradition, as I do not in the case of Islam), but also because your tradition has a clearer authority structure than Islam. So sure, there are cases where uninformed Catholics say stuff I know is heretical, or theologians openly deny papal infallibility or something. But when your theologians have sincere disagreements about what is or is not Catholic teaching, I am in no position to judge. I rather suspect that people on this board who make confident statements about who is or is not “orthodox” or “a real Catholic” are also going way beyond what they have any right to say. But that, again, is an internal matter for you.



How can you think the Church is correct in some things but incorrect in others?

Can we now pick and choose what truth is?

How is the Church incorrect?


Unless you are thinking of a different statement than I, he said that the papacy would act as it did in the first millenium if the Orthodox accept development of Catholic teaching on the subject in the second millenium as not heretical. He didn’t say the truth of the matter would be reworked.


It would be wonderful for the Eastern Orthodox Churches to reunite with us, but would be beyond tragic if it happened at the expense of us compromising our divinely revealed and declared truths. Such a compromise would never happen, as I don’t believe that Holy Spirit would allow us to “take back” divinely revealed truth.


To all who responded, thank you for the answers.

I didn’t quite spell out that at the root of this theory are feelings I have that the role of the papacy today perhaps has been exagerated from what it was in the first centuries. Also a sense that the 1800’s and 1900’s were just too late to be formally defining dogmas about Mary. Which is why I asked the question about heresy, etc.

Also it seems to me that in a future reunited Catholic Church, there would still be the confidence that even if each side of the church drifted while they were separated, the church always taught infallibly when its declarations were truly catholic and universal.

So if I have a hunch that perhaps some of the theology defined in the west since the great schism isn’t infallible, does that make me a heretic?


Okay, Edwin, YOU are incapable of comparing dogma to one’s stated or published beliefs and deciding whether or not they match.

Others can do so and say so.

Islam is irrelevant here, a complete non sequitur, and your posts on the subject, however entertaining they may be, are likewise irrelevant.

It does not take profound Catholic knowledge to make such determinations—basic literacy and a willingness to to think with clarity helps.

It does not help, of course, that so many on this board claim many more things to be dogmatic than Catholics do, but that’s more a reflection of wishful thinking on their parts than it is a lack of clarity on the part of the Church.

The ranks of the heretics are far larger in Protestant imagination than in Catholic determination.


Is it not correct to say that between East and West there are common doctrines/beliefs, but that the theology derived from a doctrine may be different and not necessarily congruent?


I rest my case.


Jesus’ promise of protection for His Church rests with the Pope. The problem is that the Orthodox Churches broke off from the Pope (over several disagreements, including the filoque and politics (Rome was a backwater, Constantinople was huge, glorious, and politically powerful, so why take orders?)).

When other groups have been separated against their will (like the Chaldeans) or have separated with the Orthodox and come back (like the various Byzantine rites), they have accepted what has been settled during the time of their absence. They don’t get to say, “Well, we weren’t at that council, so we can believe something different.”

Plus, God gives us Truth as we can handle it. As Jesus pointed out to his disciples in the Gospels, there is more truth than what is written down in the Gospels, but they weren’t ready for it yet. As the Church considers and prays over certain things, we come to better understandings. Gradually, some of the “we don’t know” spots are filled in with clearer statements of doctrine.

This is why the Marian doctrines were defined so “late.” By the 300’s, the Church was still trying to understand Jesus as both God and Man, what the Trinity is, etc. As essentials were better understood and explained (and society became settled enough for monasteries and other centers of learning), later theologians looked at how those essentials played off each other, studied Scripture further, and began to see more details in the theological picture.


Thanks for the advice. So would you say that I’m guilty of heresy? I’m not sure whether I’ve crossed that line or not.

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