Closet orthodoxy in eastern catholicism

Having been in love with much of what I see in Eastern tradition, especially the Maronites, I am nevertheless frustrated by what I have come to call “closet Orthodoxy” (note the capital O) in much of Eastern Catholicism. I hear so much bashing of Western “innovations” etc. complaints of Latinization while saying the west needs to become more eastern.

My question is, why be eastern CATHOLIC at all? If you have a problem with the papacy or the ecclesiology that goes with it, why not just leave?

It seems like every time I try to get into Eastern spirituality or tradition, I hear another person denying papal primacy or questioning the dogmas proclaimed by the pope or the councils that completely turns me off.

We can’t have one group saying Mary was immaculately conceived, and one that denies it. We can’t have one group believing in purgatory (i.e. an intermediate sate where someone is made pure to enter heaven) and one that denies it. If we did, we’d be relativists.

that’s my rant for now.

[quote=GIR;6692812I hear so much bashing of Western “innovations” etc. complaints of Latinization while saying the west needs to become more eastern.
[/quote]

Has nothing to do with…

My question is, why be eastern CATHOLIC at all? If you have a problem with the papacy or the ecclesiology that goes with it, why not just leave?

I can dislike latinizations without having any issues with the papacy or the ecclesiology.

[/quote]

It seems like every time I try to get into Eastern spirituality or tradition, I hear another person denying papal primacy or questioning the dogmas proclaimed by the pope or the councils that completely turns me off.

I have run into this but it is a minority opinion.

You have to pick and chose who you talk to. Its like the “Traditionalist” crowd who deny the validity of the OF Mass.

Is it the Holy Spirit at work?

Perhaps this is the beginning of some great things happening, drawing our churches toward each other.

We have already seen some eastern influences in the modern CCC. This could be evidence of the next big movement. :slight_smile:

Consider if we had unification of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches tomorrow, would it require that Orthodoxy or Catholicism forget ~1000 years of their own theological and spiritual development in favor of the other. No. It will be so much more muddy and complex.

What you are hearing are those who are trying to strike the balance between the two - - maybe. In a previous post, it was said that this is a minority of people. I suspect that it is probably true.

As for some of the issues that you mention. It is a matter of distinctions. Papal primacy is something different from Papal Supremacy; yet what we mean when we say Papal Primacy makes all the difference. Furthermore, when we speak of the Immaculate Conception, my understanding of the majority of thought on this is the language we use. The East does not consider original sin to place a stain of the soul, so the definition of the Dogma is not how it would be expressed in the East, but this is different from and out right denial. A Western expression, which comes closer to the East is that of John Duns Scotus. An Eastern idea of the Immaculate conception would be closer to the idea that she is preserved from death, which is what the original sin resulted in for man. Being subject to death, man is also subject to sin.

That was a bit of a ramble, but it should show the complexity of these things.

As for who stays Catholic and who goes. It seems to me that a larger percentage of people, in the US, who become Eastern Catholic later in life either through conversion from a non-Catholic faith or who undergo a canonical translation do become Orthodox than do those who were born into an Eastern Rite. Yes, I am completely ignoring the two major schisms in the last century that resulted in the OCA and ACROD. Generally speaking, where there has not been a stressing factor such as a violation of the Treaty of Brest, it seems to me that cradle Eastern Catholics are content to stay with Rome, assuming that they remain active at all in the Church. Sadly, many of my generation have either been absorbed into a Latin parish either through marriage or the desire to access Latin schools, or they have stopped being religious all together. That is reason enough for me to stay where I am now.:rolleyes:

One final thought, I have never heard anyone suggest that the West become more Eastern, which is not to say that there are not those who think that way. My thought on that is that the removal of Latinizations in Eastern Rites can be a beneficial and good thing. Where there may be an organic exchange of traditions, that is all good too. It is my understanding that the blessed bread we have after feast days comes from a Western tradition of gathering food for the poor and distributing it after the liturgy; this practice moved East where it changed to what we have today, while it entirely dies in the West. This is an example of organic change. However, I see no reason for the West to become more Eastern just because. From what I have learned about the development of the Novus Ordo, that was behind some of the work done by those who composed the New liturgy. They did it (integrating Eastern elements) very badly. It feels stilted in comparison to the “real thing.”

Please forgive the tangential nature of my post, I am sleepy.

God Bless,
R

I think the source of this tension is that there are certain Latin teachings that are only Latin theologumena which both Latins and non-Latins think are official Catholic dogma. Given the “Latin captivity” :wink: of the Catholic Church during the High Middle Ages and even into the Modern Era, where the mindset was “Latin = Catholic,” it should be expected.

Both parties, sharing the same misunderstanding, will probably never come to terms.:shrug:

Quarreling family members, but in the same family nonetheless.

Give it a few more decades. Understanding and Wisdom are goals that can only be attained through the higher and narrower road, and therefore more difficult to achieve. But with God, all things are possible.

Blessings

Blessings,
Marduk

The OP is spot on. I’ve seen numerous online posters very actively promote the idea of being fully Orthodox, while somehow remaining Catholic. And where does it lead ? In numerous instances, including the CAF, it leads to people leaving the Catholic Church. Quite frankly I expect to see alot more in the future.

Then how do you explain Rome encouraging Eastern Catholics (both Byzantine and non-Byzantine) to embrace the fullness of their Eastern heritage, to have the courage to be themselves, even when this leads to tensions with the Western tradition? :shrug: Tension does not equal division, rather it reminds each particular church that ultimately we know very little of God and must humbly stand in awe-filled silence before His incomprehensible Presence.

Philip

                       Does the fact that Rome is encouraging Eastern Catholics to embrace the fullness of their Eastern heritage, somehow change the reality that many EC's are leaving Catholicism for Orthodoxy ?

What gets me is that, this isn’t actually the case at least with regards to 99% of the theological issues which supposedly divide us. If one is completely honest, when they study Eastern and Western beliefs one will see that actually neither holds a theology completely forgine to the other. In fact, other than with regard to the specifics of the papucy, I would say differences in theology are either manufactured or artifically made to look bigger than they are for no purpose other than keeping the churches seperate.

I would say the only issue which really requires a lot of study, prayer and dialog to resolve is the specific role of the Pope in the Church. Obviously I am not without my personal point of view on this subject, I would just say that I have faith in God. Faith enough to know we will be healed when it is appropriate. I’m very encouraged by the great thaw in dialog between east and west.

With regard to the OP, it truely saddens me that this attitude seems to exist in Eastern Catholoisim. It truely saddens me that many Easterns feel as if they can pick and choose which councils they accept, and what beliefs are purely a latin opinion. It’s correct that there is a good deal of latin opinion in a great number of our beliefs, for instance some of the specifics on the topic of purgatory. A great many others aren’t, for instance the nature of the papacy.

No. But there has always been somewhat of a turn-over between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. In the past, Eastern Catholics have tended to become Orthodox when Rome started trying to suppress authentic Eastern theology, spirituality, practices, etc. and impose its own system on the East. This is what gave rise to the Carpatho-Russyn Orthodox diocese in the U.S., and, so I’m told, to the OCA.

I don’t see why it’s such a bad thing for Catholics to become Orthodox, especially since the Catholic Church teaches that Orthodoxy has the full means of salvation. :shrug:

The OP is spot on. I’ve seen numerous online posters very actively promote the idea of being fully Orthodox, while somehow remaining Catholic. And where does it lead ?

It leads to following the Magisterium (c.f. Orientale Lumen, Ut Unum Sint, Unitatis Redintegratio among many others), recognition of truly being a particular Eastern Catholic Church with full rights and dignity, full awareness of spiritual and liturgical traditions, and away from the syncretisms of the past.

No. But there has always been somewhat of a turn-over between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. In the past, Eastern Catholics have tended to become Orthodox when Rome started trying to suppress authentic Eastern theology, spirituality, practices, etc. and impose its own system on the East. This is what gave rise to the Carpatho-Russyn Orthodox diocese in the U.S., and, so I’m told, to the OCA.

Not only much of the OCA and the ACROD, but also the UOC-USA and even some parts of ROCOR (Metropolitan Laurus of blessed memory was a Skurla). As Philip has touched on, the well-documented historical damage caused by latinizations has been far and away the greatest impetus in the exodus to Orthodoxy in North America. There is simply no documentation that the suspected return to authenticity is doing any such thing to the degree of the past mass exodus, all done during the “heyday” of latinized syncretization, the “modernism” of the Eastern Catholic Churches. As Philip also correctly notes, the movement is never one-sided; my own parish priest was formerly in the MP.

It saddens me that the west thinks they can dominate the east. They make new dogmas without the consultation of eastern tradition and then try to force them on the east. The east is considered to be simply proud and insubordinate people who need to be put in their proper place. If the west wants to make new dogmas for no reason that is their own problem, we will not participate in it.

When eccumenical councils are held, it is with all bishops in full visible communion with Rome including Eastern Bishops whom most certainly have input at council. When a church decides to come into comunion with Rome, at least to the best of my understanding (I still have some reading to do on this subject) it should be knowing the dogmatic teachings of Rome, and with assent to the specific dogmatic teachings.

There is nothing “dominating” about this, and since you feel “dominated” I would ask which dogmatic teaching specifically do you have a problem with. And I would ask you to consider the question fully, which actually dogmatically defined, as defined at council (i.e. using the language of the council) is it you have a problem with?

I’m sure we “Latins” have different understandings on certain teachings than the east, but guess what. As long as no one’s interpretation violates the teaching it really doesn’t matter. For instance, is purgatory actually a place full of fire? I imagine our eastern bretheren might disagree with those specific terms, and if you look at the dogmatic teaching. That’s actually A-OK :thumbsup:

Yes, but what does a Western Christian do who disagrees with these theologoumena but is inclined toward what you call a “High Petrine” view of the Papacy?

Become Roman Catholic (in the strict and proper sense)? Then I am expected to sign on to these theologoumena and to the Absolute Petrine view, or at the very least to be part of ecclesial structures shaped by the Absolute Petrine view.

Become Eastern Catholic? But that’s just Protestant denominationalism–pick the flavor of Church that works for you. If I disagree with Western theology and agree with Eastern, and if that is legitimate in the Eastern Catholic churches but not in the Roman Catholic Church, then you aren’t really one Church.

Become Orthodox? I’ve been taking that possibility more seriously again recently, but is that compatible with my fairly “High Petrine” view of the papacy.

By the way, I have found you using these terms (“High Petrine, Low Petrine, Absolute Petrine”) but I haven’t seen a definition. Can you point me to one? I may be using them wrongly.

Edwin

Well, the Church has certain dogmas that MUST be believed. But the theology behind the dogmas, and the doctrines, can be different. We’re bound in dogma only.

What does that mean? Doesn’t the dogma also bind the arguments that are used to support it? If not then it seems that it falls apart. You can’t accept the conclusion without the support. Is it possible to accept Athanasius conclusion that God became man without accepting his arguement that we are made like God?

The only way you can get around this is if the dogma is simultaneously present in the various Churches, with their own supporting arguments for it already. That is up for debate though.

I don’t see why it’s such a bad thing for Catholics to become Orthodox, especially since the Catholic Church teaches that Orthodoxy has the full means of salvation.

Could you elaborate on this point a bit?

In terms of the other posts in this thread, I think it’s notable that Catholicism embraces the work of guys like St. John Damascene, St. Basil, St. Gregory Nazienzen, etc. as Doctors of the Church. Would/Could there ever be any such reciprocation from the East for the great Latin saint/theologians?

My experience among the Orthodox indicates no. Emphatically. This thought:

I have never heard anyone suggest that the West become more Eastern, which is not to say that there are not those who think that way

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strikes me as foreign in all my dealings with Orthodox brethren. While much attention is given to the fear of Latinizations against the East (and rightfully so, I might add, despite actions by holy men like Leo XIII to avoid such), I am constantly bombarded by Eastern thought that much of Western Catholicism be abandoned.

Sometimes it’s the filioque. Sometimes it’s bearded clergy and azymes. After all, if you think Photius had it right, some of these things will be issues.

Well with certain dogmas it’s necessary to accept the theology for the dogma to make sense, but I’ll give you an example of where that isn’t true: the dogma of Purgatory. Roman Catholics believe that Purgatory is the place that people who die in venial sin go to become purged of their sins before they enter Heaven. But as far as I know, Eastern Catholics accept only the very basic sense of the dogma, that is, a place where people go after they die that isn’t Heaven or Hell. I’m not sure on the details of the Eastern Catholic teaching of Purgatory (I’m sure it varies between Eastern Catholic Churches), but as far as I know they only accept the dogma in that very basic sense.

what would be known as the OCA was formed well earlier as the diocese of Sitka… the Russian Orthodox Church predates the arrival in significant numbers of Eastern Catholics… by 50+ years.

The Supressions did HELP the OCA, and pulled it from being thoroughly Russian, but it was merely a swell in numbers.

I have had many Latin and Eastern Catholics tell me that it is not a “place” at all. :confused:

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