Synod of Bishops Proposition on the Oriental Churches

So the Bishop’s Synod in Rome wrapped up and so this is what it had to say about the Oriental Churches:

Proposition 3 : ORIENTAL CATHOLIC CHURCHES

The Oriental Catholic Churches sui juris, which are enlightened by the Tradition that has been handed down from the Apostles through the Fathers, are the patrimony of the whole Church of Christ (cf. Orientalium Ecclesiarum, 2, Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium, 39). These Churches are part of the Apostolic heritage through which the Good News was brought to far-off lands (cf. Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 88).

They are thankful for the possibility offered to them to carry out their pastoral duties towards their migrant faithful in countries with Latin Church traditions. They also hope that their tradition might be more fully known and respected among the faithful and clergy of particular Churches around the world.

vatican.va/news_services/press/sinodo/documents/bollettino_25_xiii-ordinaria-2012/02_inglese/b33_02.html

It saddens me that in the Year of Faith and a Synod intended to promote a New Evangelization that the only references to the Eastern Churches leaves us with two ideas:

  1. The Eastern Churches were a part of the original Apostolic evangelization.

  2. Now they should tend to their own flocks and maybe show up once and a while to remind people they still exist? That is it?

I may have misread the Scriptures but I thought Our Lord commissioned all the Apostles to bring the Gospel to the world?

I would think the Eastern Churches would have many particular gifts to bring to a New Evangelization, anyone who could persevere centuries under the boot of the Ottomans, Caliphates, and Communism would have much to bring to a society under assault by tyrannical secularism and militant Islam…

I believe that the Eastern Catholic Churches have a great deal to offer to both the Church Universal and to the world. That being said, I’m not sure if you’re being completely fair. In practical terms, the vast majority of bishops at the Synod were Latin bishops with Latin flocks. The vast majority of bishops throughout the world are Latin bishops; the vast majority of Catholics are Latin. The Eastern Churches should and can share in the New Evangelization that the Church is currently calling for…but considering the numbers, wouldn’t it be incredibly unfair if the Latin Church didn’t pull its weight?

It should carry its weight, but the text of the proposition comes across as “just tend to your museum pieces and leave the rest to us.” It is patronizing. :shrug:

I can’t help but wonder if more was not said because Rome is trying not to upset things with the Orthodox, particularly when you just had Metropolitan Hilarion calling for more cooperation between the Russian Orthodox and the Catholic Church.

Perhaps I am just grasping at straws.

I think the term “offered” would be most charitably interpreted to mean that the diaspora situation offers them a chance to plant their particular churches in new areas where they previously didn’t exist, not meaning that someone is giving them something that they should grovel for or whatever (re: “occasionally show up and remind people they exist”). But then I’m probably misreading it, too, not being Catholic myself.

Just a general comment, I have always wondered why the Latin Church has these synods mostly filled with Latin bishops that feel the need to issue these proclamations about the Eastern Churches which they are not a part of and therefore may not actually understand themselves. Does the opposite happen, and I just haven’t seen it? Because it doesn’t seem to be the case. So it strikes me as odd. Why do they do this?

It seems that the territorial orientation of ecclesiology will trip us up until Kingdom come.

America, for example, was intended to be land of the free. That freedom includes (at least for the moment) the right to practice one’s own faith and expression thereof without fear of persecution or intimidation (remember the Puritans?). It was not intended to be the territory of any particular faith or religion, but a land that would embrace all equally and freely. Logically speaking, this is completely inconsistent with territoriality.

Many of the peoples in diaspora came to America because of oppression in their native lands, which often included restrictions on their human rights, including freedom of religion.

As an American and an Eastern Catholic, I find this statement of the Synod to be disappointing. There was yet another opportunity squandered to move beyond this issue and point of view. Here in America, we have as much right to exist, practice our faith and preserve our traditions as anyone, irrespective of ecclesiological concerns over territory. It would be nice if the very Church we support as faithful Catholics embraced the same philiosophy, instead of declaring officially that we’re to be merely tolerated.

Further, doesn’t the final sentence seem rather inconsistent with the exhortations of Blessed Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter, Orientale Lumen?

Since, in fact, we believe that the venerable and ancient tradition of the Eastern Churches is an integral part of the heritage of Christ’s Church, the first need for Catholics is to be familiar with that tradition, so as to be nourished by it and to encourage the process of unity in the best way possible for each.

Our Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters are very conscious of being the living bearers of this tradition, together with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. The members of the Catholic Church of the Latin tradition must also be fully acquainted with this treasure and thus feel, with the Pope, a passionate longing that the full manifestation of the Church’s catholicity be restored to the Church and to the world, expressed not by a single tradition, and still less by one community in opposition to the other; and that we too may be granted a full taste of the divinely revealed and undivided heritage of the universal Church(2) which is preserved and grows in the life of the Churches of the East as in those of the West.

Perhaps we need to “read the memo” again, as it now seems that we are to live with “hope” while others are free to ignore their obligations.

from the same document:

Proposition 16 : RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
The Synod Fathers reaffirm that religious freedom is a basic human right.

I don’t see how you can infer this conclusion from the text,
First The Oriental Churches (I assume speaking through their representatives) thank for the opportunity to “tend to their flock” that are away from their native lands.
Second they hope that their tradition becomes better known and appreciated (respected) by clergy and faithful of particular churches around the world.

This statements do not sound as if they were pronounced by the Latin rite representatives at all.
How could they thank on behalf of the Oriental Churches?
Or ask for their tradition to be better known? Makes no sense.

Proposition 3 : ORIENTAL CATHOLIC CHURCHES
The Oriental Catholic Churches sui juris, which are enlightened by the Tradition that has been handed down from the Apostles through the Fathers, are the patrimony of the whole Church of Christ (cf. Orientalium Ecclesiarum, 2, Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium, 39). These Churches are part of the Apostolic heritage through which the Good News was brought to far-off lands (cf. Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 88).
They are thankful for the possibility offered to them to carry out their pastoral duties towards their migrant faithful in countries with Latin Church traditions. They also hope that their tradition might be more fully known and respected among the faithful and clergy of particular Churches around the world.

NO! This proposition COMES from the Bishops OF the Oriental Catholic Churches to the rest of CHURCH

I thought that the Oriental Catholic Churches sui juris were rather highlighted, being placed as the first Proposition of real content in the whole document. And in that initial place in the document OCCs are rightly said to have the “Tradition that has been handed down from the Apostles… the patrimony of the whole Church of Christ”.

Saying that “They also hope that their tradition might be more fully known and respected among the faithful and clergy of particular Churches around the world.” at the very beginning of the document makes it hard to miss this appropriate call. Kind of in your face by being at the beginning of the document. :slight_smile:

The rest of the Propositions are really generic to the entire Catholic Churches with a few exceptions.

One that interests me is Proposition 38 : CHRISTIAN INITIATION AND THE NEW EVANGELIZATION

In this perspective it is not without consequences that the situation today concerning the three sacraments of Christian initiation, despite their theological unity, are pastorally diverse. These differences in the ecclesial communities are not of a doctrinal nature but differences of pastoral judgment. This Synod however requests that what the Holy Father has affirmed in Sacramentum caritatis, 18, become a stimulus for dioceses and episcopal conferences to review their practices of Christian initiation: “Concretely, it needs to be seen which practice better enables the faithful to put the sacrament of the Eucharist at the center, as the goal of the whole process of initiation” (Sacramentum caritatis, 18).

Archbishop Salvatore, while he was still Bishop of Oakland had begun a process for restoring the full Rites of Initiation, Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist, for any child of the age of reason, usually 7 years here, just as is done with adults. This will place fully initiated Latin Church Catholic children with their Baptized Latin Church Catholic peers who were Baptized as infants and have not yet received Confirmation, and typically won’t receive the Sacrament for a number of years to come. I’m looking forward to seeing if the new bishop will follow up with implementing this in Oakland, and also if now Archbishop Salvatore will implement this in the Archdiocese of SF.

The divvying up of North America is a trouble not only for Catholics but also for Orthodox. Of course for the Orthodox the issue isn’t much about different traditions, rites, and even theology. Most people believe it is the Patriarch of Constantinople holding on to her largest diocese. Given her traditional territory is all but Muslim land now. Other Orthodox are fighting for an American Orthodox Church, Russia has already granted autocephally to the OCA which the EP has yet to recognize.

For Catholics it is a much complicated issue. It’s not so much as control of territory but also the celebration of rites and the practice of faith. Ukrainian Catholics won’t go to Roman Catholics Churches because they will lose the very essence of being Ukrainian Catholic. Their entire way of worship will be obliterated.

This pluralism in the Catholic Church isn’t working.

Why would that upset the Orthodox? The Orthodox would be more upset by this. If they reunite with Rome then it means they have to move out of the traditional territories of Rome, which includes all of North America. It means all this evangelization efforts by the Orthodox in North America will have to stop because they should only be looking at their own people.

Some, here and elsewhere, have made the claim that the Russian Orthodox in particular are not that happy to see the growth and expansion of the Eastern Catholicism. That is the genesis of my statement.

But the question is who is who’s “people”? It’s all fine and well to decry jurisdictionalism on the one hand, but is the answer to that that all of the West is ‘belonging’ to Rome by virtue of it being the traditional territory of the only apostolic patriarchate in the West (in which case, an attitude such as what Denho reads in the document would make sense), with everybody else being essentially transplants or accidents of history? Or is it the case that, with the majority of the West being post-Christian/secularized, these churches are better to evangelize than just to show ignorant or mostly uninterested Westerners what Christianity looks like if you’re Lebanese, Syrian, Egyptian, etc.? And what can you do when one claim gets in the way of the reality of life in a particular place? (e.g., the West is still Latin territory, even if it lately has had to transfer its otherwise vacant churches to growing Orthodox churches so that they won’t have to close entirely: Cardinal Christoph Schonborn: “we’ve proposed to give churches to other Christian churches which are growing, such as the Copts, the Serbian Orthodox, and the Romanian Orthodox, who are all getting bigger”)

It makes no sense. It’s untenable. Not to mention the Christians of the Eastern and Oriental churches are usually the ones doing the evangelization and thereby winning new converts, anyway, while the Roman church and other Western churches are usually busy trying to recoup losses from “their” people who have moved on to being irreligious, converting to Islam, etc. If I were those bishops, I’d change my tune on the Eastern and Oriental churches right quick, because it is clear that the old ways of viewing their church communion are not working.

Coptic Orthodox midnight praises (Tasbeha) in Italian, from the heart of Roman Catholic Europe in Milan, Italy <=== whose people are these? God’s people! :thumbsup:

I hear that a lot too. I don’t know how official that “unhappiness” is. Why are we even concerned about the thoughts and feelings of a Church that is not part of our communion and we don’t even know if they are serious about unity?

I don’t have the quote at my fingertips, but I recall Pope Benedict once mentioned the possibility of the Latin Church being split into a few different churches.

If you ask me, the Orthodox can tend to be a little too serious about unity. Maybe not every single Orthodox, but some take a *either-you’re-in-the-church-or-you’re-not *approach.

Well the only way the Orthodox will accept reunion is if Rome becomes Orthodox. The Pope needs to ask himself one question, is he willing to flush Pastor Aeternus down the proverbial toilet? If “no”, then forget reunion and do something to keep your own flock happy, which includes the Eastern Catholic Churches. No sense in trying to keep the Orthodox happy when you are not willing to do what they demand for a reunion.

Impossible. The Ecclesiology of the West has changed so much. There isn’t even a hierarchial Church anymore, every bishop is equally under the Pope. Archbishops are not “first among equals” with their suffragan dioceses anymore. Primates are merely honorific titles. RCs bishops are essentially vicars of the Pope. There aren’t hundres or thousands of Churches in communion with one another, its just one Church of Rome and everyone is just a subdivision of her.

That’s a related problem: the (if you will) *you-don’t-matter-to-us-unless-you’re-going-to-enter-into-full-communion-with-us *attitude.

I don’t know how official that unhappiness is either. As for the rest, I see no reason to intentionally drive them away, but I imagine it is a tough balance to strike. Personally, I would rather see the Catholic Church focus on helping Eastern Catholics and treating them well, but I admit that I don’t know enough about the situation to speculate further than I have already.

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