I’m just checking if my understanding of this is correct… is it true that as Eastern Catholics we also accept the doctrines that were formulated in the West, such as the Immaculate Conception, etc? and the ones concerning the Papacy of course. I understand the Church wants us to keep our spirituality and not be latinized, but my understanding is also that we have a unity of doctrine, since we are Catholic and not Orthodox for example? thank you
Yes and no. The Eastern Churches have their own theology and it has a different notion about the fall. In the West, this event in Salvation History is explained by the concept of Original Sin. In the East, it is explained by the concept of Ancestral Sin. The former implies an inherited guilt, while the latter implies an inherited wound. Therefore, the doctrines are not the same. Unity does not mean uniformity of doctrines.
Both the East and the West agree that the Virgin Mary has never sinned, that she’s always been unstained by sin or immaculate. Now, in the West the doctrine of Original Sin creates a problem that is resolved by stating that Mary was spared inheriting our foreparents’ sin at her conception. In the East, this problem doesn’t exist with the doctrine of Ancestral Sin.
Personally, I prefer the Eastern doctrine. Not only is it simpler, requiring no other doctrine, but it also elevates Mary’s virtue even higher. Of my own, keeping in mind that “what has not been assumed has not been redeemed” (St. Athanasius), I also think that conveys the idea of a more complete redemption of man by Our Savior, since he assumed not a special human nature granted by privilege to the Mother of God, but the very same as mine which I find nailed to the cross and then risen from the tomb.
However, neither doctrine was revealed, but are theological conclusions based on Divine Revelation, yet inferring the gaps. In this sense, humility demands that the Churches of the East and of the West acknowledge the right of the other to hold their own doctrines and to not contradict them.
Different approaches to be sure, but no one regardless of rite or background may contradict the definitive teaching of the Magisterium. The Council of Trent, Session V, taught infallibly that:
– Adam lost original justice not only for himself, but for the whole human race;
– Adam handed down to his descendants not only death and suffering, but also sin, the death of the soul;
– Baptism removes the guilt of original sin.
The above bullet points are paraphrased; see the document itself for exact wording.
As to the Immaculate Conception, the infallible definition in Ineffabilis Deus states explicitly that it was a “singular privilege.” We cannot say, therefore, that *everyone *is immaculately conceived, as some would do in order to assent to the dogma without admitting to the existence of original sin.
To back up that statement, this is from Council of Trent, Session V (June 17, 1546):
[Denzinger] 789 2. If anyone asserts that the transgression of Adam has harmed him alone and not his posterity, and that the sanctity and justice, received from God, which he lost, he has lost for himself alone and not for us also; or that he having been defiled by the sin of disobedience has transfused only death “and the punishments of the body into the whole human race, but not sin also, which is the death of the soul,” let him be anathema, since he contradicts the Apostle who says: “By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned” [Rom. 5:12; see n. 175].
The law comes from somewhere, so merely quoting it fails to persuade anyone beyond a rote faith.
The Mother of God did not have a special human nature, rather she was redeemed by the grace of Christ, in a special way, that is by anticipation.
- Luke 1:
46 And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord.
47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
48 Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Yes Vico, that’s the text I cited. Unfortunately the link appears to be broken on the new site.
How’s a “special way” not a special way?
St. John the Forerunner received the graces of baptism in a special way too: in the womb, in synchronization with St. Elizabeth proclaiming the Theotokos (“the infant jumped in her womb”), rather than through baptism like the rest of us.
And, of course, receiving grace in a unique way doesn’t make someone inhuman. That’s what @Vico means.
A special way is a special way, but what was said was not a special way, but a special nature.
All Catholics believe the same teachings; some churches conceive and describe these teachings using different concepts and phrases, sort of how words don’t exactly translate into other languages, so different, creative approaches in the translation are necessary in order to get the intention across.
According to you, Christ didn’t bear my wounded nature, but the redeemed human nature on the cross.
That is not what I said, rather “The Mother of God did not have a special human nature, rather she was redeemed by the grace of Christ, in a special way, that is by anticipation.” Her human nature is the same our human nature and Adam and Eve’s. The state of human nature is transmitted fallen, that is deprived of original holiness and justice. However the Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved free from the stain of original sin, which is that she did have the state of sanctifying grace at conception, however nothing was defined regarding the gift of immortality (possibility of not dying) which was part of original justice.
Therefore, as I pointed, Christ did not inherit Adam’s nature, but a redeemed nature different from ours.
We’ll have to agree to disagree, I’m afraid. As for me, I’ll stick to the much more consistent teachings of my Church from the East.
All Catholics agree with Heb. 4:15
- For we have not a high priest, who can not have compassion on our infirmities: but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin.
Of course, except that the Catholics from the East don’t believe in inherited original sin or guilt, just its effect, namely, death, which Jesus trampled down by death.
As in the Catechism of the Catholic Church
404 … original sin is called “sin” only in an analogical sense: it is a sin “contracted” and not “committed” - a state and not an act.
405 Although it is proper to each individual,295 original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence". Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.
Also see St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Great Catechism, Chapter VIII:
- This liability to death, then, taken from the brute creation, was, provisionally, made to envelope the nature created for immortality. It enwrapped it externally, but not internally. It grasped the sentient part of man; but laid no hold upon the Divine image.
Did you just put these quotes side by side as if they were equivalent? Amazing!
Yes from sin, death, and from death sin. No inherited personal guilt.
- subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin (Catechism)
- liability to death (St. Gregory The Theologian)
- 12 Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.
- 13 For until the law sin was in the world; but sin was not imputed, when the law was not.
- 14 But death reigned from Adam unto Moses, even over them also who have not sinned after the similitude of the transgression of Adam, who is a figure of him who was to come.
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