I recently made a post about this question but I am still very confused about the issue. One of my teachers today was talking about the crisis and Syria and brought up the fact that the Syriac Orthodox Church is the oldest form of Christianity. My first question is: is this church in line with the bishop of Rome? My second and more important question is: if this fact is true, than how is the claim by the Catholic Church, more specifically Latin rite Catholics, that it is the true church founded by Christ?
The Syriac Orthodox Church is not in communion with Rome. There are West Syrian Rite Catholic counterparts (Maronite, Syriac Catholic).
As an ecclesiological structure, I find it erroneous to argue (amongst the Apostolic Churches) who the “oldest” is. However, the Syriac Churches do, without debate, use the oldest form of the liturgy. One should also remember that the Syriac Orthodox Church, which is not the only Church that uses the West Syriac rite, was in communion with what later became the Catholic Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Communion and the Oriental Orthodox Communion until the 6th century.
Now you mention how is this possible if Christ founded the Church that Latin Catholics purport. (1) Christ did not found ritual (other than the core ritual which is in all apostolic liturgies), (2) if the Latin Church is the “true” Church in virtue of being the oldest… there’s a lot of problems with that claim (one can easily recall from Acts that there are Churches in Jerusalem and Greece before Rome, and recall how Paul was going to Damascus, because there was already an established Church present).
Finally, I’ll conclude by saying [just to clarify] the Latin Church is no “truer” in its foundation in Christ then, say, the Maronite Church. Christ came to found all Apostolic Churches.
Allow me a small interjection: the Syriac Churches include both the Western & Eastern. And it is arguably the case that, although they are not the same, both have common roots in the School of Edessa. If any were to be given the designation “oldest” I should think it would belong to Edessa. What developed in Antioch was built on what came from Edessa.
Your teacher is wrong. The Syriac Orthodox Church is an off shoot of the Catholic Church, all Christian Churches are off shoots of the Catholid Church. And no, no Orthodox Church is in union with Rome. There are Eastern Rite Catholics all over the Middle East, some are Syrian. Only those Churches which have the word " Catholic " in them are in union with the Vatican. But even a few of these are not in union with the Vatican; for example, the Old Catholics are not. If you want, you can research this in a good history of the Catholic Church like " The History of the Church " by Philip Hughs or just by using the Catholic Encyclopedia. newadvent.org/cathen/03449a.htm and newadvent.org/cathen/07365a.htm
Eastern Churches newadvent.org/cathen/05230a.htm
OP, this is an Orthodox misunderstanding of ecclesiology akin to Protestants arguing the early Christians were proto-Calvinists. The early Church was Catholic. St. Peter and his successors, after his death the Bishops of Rome, guided the Church exercising universal jurisdiction (cf. Pope Clement of Rome). Note, Christ didn’t come t found His Churches, rather He founded His One Church, the Catholic Church. That being said, Orthodox orders are apostolic, their communions date back to the apostles, but they have existed in schism as separate communions from Peter only since circa 1000 AD.
This is a very interesting thread. I have nothing to offer, but it appears by following it I have much to learn.
Interesting that the Syriac Churches use the oldest form of liturgy. Hmmmm, wonder why it has been changed ?
How is my post a misunderstanding of ecclesiology? I said the Latin Church is no “truer” than the Maronite Church. That is a completely correct statement. If you reject the truth of that statement, you are speaking against the Catholic Church.
And to Linusthe2nd, not to be a stickler, but there is no such thing as an Eastern Rite Catholic. One can be part of the Eastern Churches but they do not belong to an Eastern Ritual (source: the catechism). It’s also technically untrue to say a Church must have Catholic in it’s name to be truly Apostolic since the Maronite Church has been [supposedly] always Catholic yet the official name is the Syro-Maronite Church of Antioch (nowhere in its name does it state it is Catholic, despite the fact that it is).
I will explicitly say, because this is a recent point of my frustration, this will probably devolve into another thread in which the unversed Latins flood this forum with their half-baked answers and then denounce the resident Eastern Catholics as heretics (this isn’t directed at any prior poster).
I’ve been thinking how to write it… and I think I like your comment enough to “addopt” it (at least last paragraph and “truer part” of first one).
But two remarks:
I think it is quite problematic with official names of churches. For example Catholic Curchs as whole likes to refer to herself as Christ’s, One, True and so on and “Catholic” is quite offen just “term to be understood”.
I don’t know the situation with official name of Maronite Church but what you can find easily is Maronite Church or Maronite Catholic Church. What’s more, sui iuris churches are often listed as Melkite (Greek) Catholic Church, Syriac Catholic Church, Syro-Malabar Catholic Church… and maybe official names are different but this can misclear the situation.
(Btw, Roman CC is quite often (does not mean correct) but I probably haven’t seen Latin CC yet.)
I think it is quite acceptable to write that Christ came and founded His church. This has (been) splitted(ing) and we can argue which one is true or “better”. But as you see tree with branches, these branches come from one tree trunk. However some with fruit (and some fruit good and some not), some with flowers without fruit, some just with leaves, and some dry… and of course grass growing in bird’s nests is another case.
You are selectively quoting yourself. You also said “Christ came to found all Apostolic Churches.” Herein your misunderstanding lies. Christ came to found ONE Church (cf. John 17:21), not “all Apostolic Churches.” As you know, the Church is the bride of Christ (cf. Eph 5, 2 Cor 11, Rev 19, Rev 21). Christ is not a polygamist. He has ONE bride. One Church. The Church also is the Body of Christ (cf. Rom 12, 1 Cor 12). Christ is not a Frankenstein, He has ONE body. One Church. The EO Churches are apostolic, they are ancient, but they have not always existed in schism from the Catholic Church and Christ didn’t intend for them to enter into schism.
Secondly, the both the Maronite Rite and the Latin Rite are a part of the one Catholic Church. Maronites are Catholics just as much as Latins are. I don’t believe (correct me if I’m wrong) that there are Maronites outside of the Catholic Church (i.e. not in union with the pope). Therefore, any attempt to see one as “truer” or “superior” to the other is the result of confusion between our Eastern Rite Catholic brothers and Eastern Orthodox Churches in a state of schism.
The Catholic Church encompasses the Church of Rome, the Church of Antioch, the Church of Jerusalem, etc. The Catholic Church is One.
The Syriac Oriental Orthodox Church, the Antiochian Eastern Orthodox Church, the Melkite Catholic Church, the Maronite Catholic Church, and the Syrian Catholic Church are all patriarchates of Antioch.
St Peter founded the Church of Antioch before founding the Church of Rome. The local Church of Antioch is older that the local Church of Rome. The Catholic Church is the oldest Church but Antioch was part of the Catholic Church before Rome became Catholic.
Said it better than I could!
PietroPaolo, you’re just misconstruing what I said over choice of diction. Read Zekariya’s post.
We both agree with Zekariya’s post, so you must be right. Well at least it isn’t the first time a Western and an Eastern Catholic have been saying the same thing, but with a different choice of diction God bless.
Thanks for the clarification.
PietroPaolo, have you ever noticed the lack of attacks-on-Orthodoxy by the Vatican? How do you explain that?
P.S. Lest I be misunderstood, let me stress that I’m not saying that you ought to write to the Vatican and “educate” them about the need to attack Orthodoxy.
The east has never accepted the top down ecclesiology that reduces the Church to a monolithic structure. The west views the Church as a monolithic structure with the pope as head, and the bishops as his subordinates. So a break from Rome is a break from the past, and consequently a new beginning. The OO Church consequently started in 450, the ACE started in 434, and the EO started in 1054. Before that none of them existed.
The east has never accepted this. For us it starts with the local Church, with the bishop as its head. It is primarily about living the Christian life as it was handed on. In other words, being faithful to tradition. The Church is fully present in Antioch, Alexandria, Rome, Pittsburgh, NYC and every other city. We have communion with the Church everywhere else. So it is a misconception to say that the EO started in 1054, or that the OO started in 450. Those dates only mark points in history at which communion was ruptured. The Syriac Orthodox Church truely is just as old as the Roman Catholic Church.