Gentle readers, I will be out of town all next week and will not be able to look after the blog. I have some interesting articles to post when I return: one by a Dominican scholar on East/West polarization, and another by some fellow called Ratzinger on the Immaculate Conception.
Archive for August, 2009
On the Present Apparent Conflict Between “Orthodoxy” and “Catholicism
From Dissertations on Subjects Relating to the “Orthodox” or “Eastern-Catholic” Communion (1853), by William Palmer, M.A., Fellow of St. Mary Magdalene College, Oxford, and Deacon.
As there is one God and Father, one Lord Jesus Christ, one Holy Ghost, and one Baptism, so also there is One Body of the Church, the essential attributes of which are all inseparably united together. The Church is Holy: the same Church is Catholic, or Universal: the same is Apostolic: the same is Orthodox, or rightly-believing: the same is One. If there can be two Gods, one Almighty and the other all-merciful, then there may be two Churches, one Catholic or Universal, and the other Orthodox.
Yet at a certain point of time, or between two certain points of time, we see that great body of the visible Catholic or Oecumenical Church, which from the division of the Oecumenical Roman Empire (tes oikoumenes) was distinguished superficially into two branches, Eastern and Western, Greek and Latin, without detriment to its essential unity, splitting into two separate and hostile communities, one of which insisting upon “Orthodoxy’” was nevertheless unable to enforce that Orthodoxy upon the consciences of men by the weight of manifest Catholicism, the other insisting at the time on the Roman pre-eminence and the indivisible unity of the Church (and now also upon the note of a greater appearance of Catholicism,) was little careful or able to meet the charge brought against it with regard to Orthodoxy.
The Eastern section of Christendom in condemning the Latins urged openly that they had become heterodox, and assumed or implied tacitly that therefore they could not be Catholic, while their own Eastern Church, in spite of any appearances to her disadvantage, must be also Catholic, because she was unquestionably Orthodox. The Latins retorted that having on their aide the See of Peter (to which was attached the unity and Catholicity of the Church), they must therefore, in spite of any appearances to their disadvantage, be also Orthodox, while the Easterns refusing to follow them, and so breaking off from unity, could not really have any advantage in respect of Orthodoxy, whatever appearances they might think they had in their favour.
Each side had its own strong point, on which it insisted: neither side answered fairly or adequately to the objection of the other. Each alike dissembled the point of its own apparent disadvantage, and trusted to that point on which it felt itself strong to overbalance and hide its weakness.
Under such circumstances if the two contending bodies had been at the first equal in strength the one to the other, and had remained so since, the two forces would have absolutely neutralized one another, and it would have seemed to us now that cither there is no such thing in existence as the Church of the Creed, at once Orthodox and universal, (the two destroying one another,) or else that the two conflicting bodies are both equally the Church, that is parts of the Church, their conflict and external separation being only a superficial accident and disease, and not reaching to the essential orthodoxy and Catholicity inherent in them both.
The Benedictine Monastery of St Mary on Mount Athos
Dom Leo Bonsall
Eastern Churches Review 2:3 (1969), pp. 262-7 (footnotes omitted)
BENEDICTINE contacts with the Church of the East have been many and varied, but the foundation of the abbey of St Mary on Mount Athos and its continuing existence during a period when official relations between Rome and Constantinople were at a very low ebb is perhaps the outstanding example of monastic co-operation transcending the estrangement of East and West. The full history of the monastery has never been written, for much of it is shrouded in mystery. There are very few documents and the dating of some of these is difficult; all that visibly remains of the buildings is a tower and a few walls on the eastern side of the Athonite peninsula. It is hardly surprising that one of the first Benedictine foundations in the East should have been made by monks from the maritime city republic of Amalfi: Amalfitan merchant ships were trading throughout the area, and monks from that city continued their founding work with the monastery of St Mary the Latin in Jerusalem, and another monastery in Constantinople itself.
From the blog Gregorian Rite Catholic:
Benedict XVI is “on board” with ecumenism, but he calibrates it carefully. It is a refreshing change from the near-indifferentism that characterized the previous pontificate.
The first substantial ecumenical address he gave was in Cologne. And everyone was all aflutter when he said this: “On the other hand, this unity does not mean what could be called ecumenism of the return: that is, to deny and to reject one’s own faith history. Absolutely not!
“It does not mean uniformity in all expressions of theology and spirituality, in liturgical forms and in discipline. Unity in multiplicity, and multiplicity in unity: in my Homily for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul on 29 June last, I insisted that full unity and true catholicity in the original sense of the word go together. As a necessary condition for the achievement of this coexistence, the commitment to unity must be constantly purified and renewed; it must constantly grow and mature.”
A friend forwarded me a couple of gems from a recently published text which purports to be “an Orthodox catechism for our times” and “a book with the big answers to the big questions every person asks themselves about faith, science and doubt” –
Western Christianity, in all its expressions (whether Catholic, Protestant or so-called Western Orthodox) shares the same ontological and dualistic ecclesiology. Following Plato’s dualism, Western Christianity speaks of a God outside the box and creates a church inside the box. For the West, the Kingdom of God exists in heaven, but it is men who create the Kingdom of God on earth.
Western worship, regardless of whether it is Catholic, Protestant or Western Orthodox so-called, is man-made.
I can think of no better example of the kind of pseudo-intellectual pablum that David Bentley Hart identifies as “something of a cottage industry in the Orthodox Church—especially among converts—to discover and ‘market’ ever newer ancient differences between Eastern and Western Christian theology, morality, devotion, spirituality, politics, cuisine, or whatever else one can think of.”
Or, as I’ve seen it called somewhere on the net, “Pop Byzantine.”
I’m told the back cover of this exciting new book bears the endorsement of Orthodox bishops. Kyrie eleison.
P.S. I’m also told that the author, a former Baptist seminarian, seems to be enamored of biblical higher criticism, e.g. the tired old “documentary hypothesis.” What such late 19th century unbelieving German protestant blather has to do with Orthodox Christian catechesis is beyond me. “Western captivity” indeed.