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Archive for the ‘Quotes’ Category

Via Rorate caeli comes this interesting quote from Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk:

“All current versions of Christianity can be roughly divided into two main groups: traditional and liberal. The difference today is not so much between Orthodox and Catholics, or between Catholics and Protestants, but precisely between Traditionalists and ‘Liberals’. Some Christian leaders, for instance, tell us that marriage between a man and a woman is no longer the only way to build a Christian family: there are other available models, and the Church should become sufficiently ‘inclusive’ in order to recognize alternative behavioral standards and to grant them official blessing. Some try to persuade us that human life is no longer an absolute value, and that life in the womb may be ended at will. Traditionalist Christians are in fact being asked to reconsider their views under the pretext of keeping up with modern times.”

Original source in Italian.

UPDATE: The full English text of Met. Hilarion’s address to the Annual Nicean Club Dinner, Lambeth Palace, 9 September 2010.  The address was given in the presence of Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.

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Via two excellent blogs with serious ‘traditionalist’ credentials – Ora et Labora (Russian Orthodox) and Rorate Caeli (Roman Catholic) – I present the following new official liturgical texts for St Justin (Popovic) of Celije (+1979), a newly glorified Saint of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Apolytikion, Mode 1

Let us honor with splendor the divinely inspired theologian, the wise Serb Justin, who by the scythe of the Holy Spirit hath thrashed the error of atheism and the insolence of the Latins, being a mystic of the God-man and lover of piety, crying out: Glory to Christ Who hath glorified thee, glory to Him Who hath crowned thee, glory to Him Who hath rendered thee a luminary to those who are in a state of darkness.

Kontakion, Mode 1

We proclaim to the faithful the inexhaustible fount conveying the Orthodox doctrines, and an angel-like man full of divine zeal, the divine Justin, the offspring of the Serbs, who by his sound teachings and writings hath strengthened the faith of all in the Lord.

This (as Mr Palad of Rorate Caeli points out) coming mere months after the election of the new Serbian Patriarch, Irinej (Gavrilovic), a ‘moderate’ who apparently welcomed the idea of a papal visit to Serbia (which would be the first in history) and even proposed that it happen in 2013, in commemoration of the 1,700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan.

Some readers may be familiar with St Justin’s famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) declaration: “In the history of the human race there have been three principal falls: that of Adam, that of Judas, and that of the pope.”

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Dr Peter Gilbert, of De unione ecclesiarum (one of a few blogs by an Orthodox Christian I can bear to read) has just posted the text of a lecture he recently gave to the Youngstown, Ohio chapter of the Society of St John Chrysostom. Please leave any comments you have at Dr Gilbert’s blog.

I will only reproduce here a quote of St Gregory the Theologian, which seems to sum up so well the history of theological wrangling between Greek and Latin Christianity:

Others, mutually divided, drive East and West
into confusion, and God has abandoned them to their flesh,
for which they make war, giving their name and their allegiance to others:
my god’s Paul, yours is Peter, his is Apollos.
But Christ is pierced with nails to no purpose.
For it’s not from Christ that we’re called, but from men,
we who possess his honor by hands and by blood.
So much have our eyes been clouded over by a love
of vain glory, or gain, or by bitter envy,
pining away, rejoicing in evil: these have a well-earned misery.
And the pretext is the Trinity, but the reality is faithless hate.
Each is two-faced, a wolf concealed against the sheep,
and a brass pot hiding a nasty food for the children.

[Poem 2.1.13, To the Bishops, vv. 151-163; PG 37, 1239-1240]

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From my favorite Orthodox blog, Prof. Peter Gilbert’s De Unione Ecclesiarum

I finally have some good news to report. Today I received an e-mail from the Managing Editor of the journal Communio, informing me that the Summer 2009 issue is now, at last, in print, and that they have decided to feature my article on “John Bekkos as a Reader of the Fathers” on their website. A link to the website, showing the contents of their current issue, is http://www.communio-icr.com/latest.htm; a permanent link to the article, in PDF format, is http://www.communio-icr.com/articles/PDF/gilbert36-2.pdf

(more…)

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Good friend of the blog Michaël sends along this excerpt from a recent interview with Francis Cardinal George of Chicago. I think it’s of particular interest to our Orthodox readers, as it sheds light on how a conservative Roman Catholic bishop understands the delicate balance between primacy and conciliarity in his own communion.

You spend a fair bit of space responding to the critique offered by Peter Steinfels in his book A People Adrift, but there’s one point you mention and then let drop. He suggests, as many others have, that the American bishops are spineless when it comes to Rome – that is, constantly looking over your shoulder at how people in Rome will react. Is there any merit to that?

I don’t think so. People say that again and again. We have a very adult discussion with the Holy See, while at the same time acknowledging that the pope is our father too, and that the primacy of Peter is a datum of revelation that constitutes the church internally as well as externally. There’s great respect, but bishops will go back to the Holy See again and again if they think there’s been a mistake on the governmental level. It goes on all the time. We’re doing it now, this week. This idea that we’re all sitting around waiting to see what somebody over here in the Curia will do, whether to pat us on the back or to give us a slap on the hand … I don’t find that attitude at all, I really don’t.

I think the bishops know that, by Christ’s will, they are responsible for their churches. They’re in Catholic communion, they’re not franchises of General Motors. I think the Holy See knows that too … it’s a bureaucracy, of course, and like any bureaucracy, it’s mixed, but on the whole they know it. They expect us to come back and say, ‘This works, this doesn’t work.’ Why are they revising the Code of Canon Law? Because a bunch of bishops came back and said, ‘This doesn’t work.’ Again and again, they’ll do that.

Of course, they’ll do that slowly. Rome has its own rhythms, and sometimes it feels like we’ll all be dead before something happens. Often they can be too willing to say, ‘time will take care of this,’ when something really is urgent. That’s a cultural problem.

You don’t wake up in a cold sweat worrying about how Rome will react to whatever you say or do?

I don’t know any bishop who fits that description. There may be, but it’s certainly not the description of the conference and certainly not the description of the bishops I know. If people mean that we’re concerned to be orthodox in our teaching, then sure, yeah. But if you’re saying that the teaching is just defined by whatever the pope thinks of in the morning, no. The pope is also subservient to the gospel, as Benedict says very clearly, and to the tradition. He is a marker for it, and we look to see what he says, but because we want to be faithful to Christ, not because he says it.

There’s a concern that we are faithful to the apostolic tradition, and the pope is a marker for that to which we pay attention, obviously carefully. But mostly it’s our faith that makes us of one mind with the pope, it’s not his commands. The same thing is true for governance generally, although it’s a little different, because there’s a little more independence, also in the Code itself. Still, you want to govern in communion … the whole book is about that. There’s a concern that we govern not just in communion with the pope, but with the bishops of Brazil, for example. Not in the same way, but we’re a universal communion.

The concern for communion doesn’t mean we’re afraid of being reprimanded. The concern for truth doesn’t mean that we’re afraid of being scolded. Instead, it means that we’re Catholic.

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This approach [of the "Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism"] is at variance with the policy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and, increasingly, the body of local Orthodox Churches which are involved in the painstaking dialogue and progress towards restoring communion between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church undertaken by the International Theological Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue, and with the active participation of the Orthodox Church in the work of the World Council of Churches and the Faith and Order Commission. For these a ‘theology of return’ has been set aside, as in Roman Catholic circles, it being recognised that visible Christian unity and re-integration is unlikely to be achieved by insisting that the various sides abandon their tradition and positions and convert to others. Instead, it is envisaged that through dialogue and friendship, no tradition should surrender its integrity but, instead, grow in theological, spiritual and pastoral awareness of the others towards finding a common mind in Christ, reflected faithfully in each Christian tradition, and towards realising greater unity and ultimately communion. Furthermore, it cannot be a threat to tradition and integrity to receive from others what accords, or comes to accord, with them through this growth.

From the blog of the Pontifical Society of St John Chrysostom (UK and Europe)

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Orrologion has posted the original text of the “Twelve Differences between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches” by Teófilo de Jesús along with excellent responses to each of the twelve points from Fr Alvin Kimel, of Pontifications* fame, who in his extended period of discernment after leaving the Episcopal Church studied the claims of both Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy in great depth.

Some excerpts:

On Primacy. Is it true that the Orthodox Church rejects totally any understanding of ecclesial headship? What about the bishop of a diocese? Does he not wield and embody a divine authority given to him by Christ Jesus? Is he not the head of his community, which precisely is the Church? And when Catholics speak of the Pope as the earthly head of the Church, are they in any way denying that Christ alone is properly head of the Church? When Catholics speak of the primacy of the Pope, are they exalting the Pope above the Episcopate, as if their power and authority derived from him? And are Orthodox theologians incapable of entertaining an authentic primacy within the episcopal college for the bishop of Rome? …

On Conciliarity. The Catholic Church understands the Church precisely as a communion of particular Churches and local dioceses; moreover, the Church as the universal Church is not to be understood as simply the sum or collection of all particular Churches: each diocese is itself a truly catholic body … Catholic ecclesiology is so much more complex and diverse than is sometimes appreciated …

On Original Sin. I’m sure there are differences between Catholic construals of anthropology and Orthodox construals of anthropology (please note the plural); but I do not believe that this is because the Catholic Church authoritatively teaches a forensic imputation of original sin and the Orthodox Church does not. Why do I say this? Because it is not at all clear to me that the Catholic Church authoritatively teaches the *forensic* imputation of Adam’s guilt to humanity. I know that some (many?) Catholic theologians have sometimes taught something like this over the centuries, but the Catholic Church has strained over recent decades to clarify the meaning of Original Sin not as the forensic transfer of Adam’s guilt but as the inheritance of the Adamic condition of real alienation from God–i.e., the absence of sanctifying grace … Important differences on the nature of original exist between St Augustine and magisterial Catholic teaching …

On Liturgical Reform. I agree here that there are important differences between Catholic and Orthodox liturgical praxis at the present time. Sadly, many sectors of the Catholic Church appear to have uncritically embraced the thesis that the Church must adapt her liturgy to the spirit of the modern age. This has been disastrous for Catholic life and spirituality. One does see signs, however, that the insanity is passing.

On Grace and Deification. While perhaps it might have been true at some point in the past that Catholic theologians tended to reduce grace to a created power, this cannot be asserted today. Catholic theologians are quite clear that everything begins with and centers around Uncreated Grace. Catholic theologians do have a problem with some of the Palamite construals of grace and the popular Orthodox rejection of any notion of created grace–they do not see how the Palamite position does not lead to the annihilation of human nature–but this does not mean that Catholic theologians and poets cannot envision an eschatological life as full and vivid as the Orthodox. Surely Dante’s Paradiso may be invoked at this point. But I do acknowledge a difference of homiletical and ascetical emphasis between Catholics and Orthodox on theosis, sanctifying suffering, and the life of the resurrection.

* I was inspired to begin blogging after reading Pontifications, though I am not nearly as erudite and well-spoken as Fr Kimel and some of his interlocutors, both Catholic and Orthodox.

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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.

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GML11

Via Fr Anthony Chadwick, I present “ΟΜΟΛΟΓΙΑ ΠΙΣΤΕΩΣ Κατά του Οικουμενισμού” (“A Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism” (original Greek text and unofficial English translation), signed by a number of metropolitans, bishops, clergy and monks of the Orthodox Church of Greece.

I tend to agree with Fr Chadwick’s commentary on the text (link, see July 18) –

I see this whole thing in simple terms. The Christian world has been torn between relevance to the world and its specific identity. Ultimately, the whole thing goes back to the Donation of Constantine and “if the salt loses its savour”.

This is a problem that is intrinsic to Christianity. If a religion is to expand and assume a missionary vision, then it must be prepared to compromise its identity and inculturate. Western Catholicism is a missionary religion and addresses itself to the world. Eastern Orthodoxy, like Judaism, is a vast “monastery” and keeps its identity by keeping the infidel out and at arm’s length. The latter vision is coherent if it considers, like Jansenism and Calvinism, that the majority of humanity is nothing more than “hell fodder”. Islam is both “missionary” and medieval hard-line, and will continue to make inroads until it falls victim of its missionary ambitions and goes – – – secular.

… The Orthodox, like the Roman Catholic traditionalists (especially the sedevacantists) have come to this out of an instinct for survival. We traditional Anglicans also to an extent, because we can only survive by our difference from secular humanism. When you look at the historical pattern, we can begin to understand. All this is to say that I understand those Greeks who have had enough of relativism and liberalism. But, where is the love and charity or the will to share the Gospel with the world as Jesus asked of his Apostles?

Veritatem facientes in caritate. Not easy…. I would even say that we all seem to have got it wrong.

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Fr Anthony Chadwick, a priest of the Traditional Anglican Communion (currently seeking full communion with Rome), at his always interesting blog “Reflections from Normandy”, points out the following quote from the Pope’s most recent motu proprio (Ecclesiae unitatem, 2 July 2009) –

The duty to safeguard the unity of the Church, with the solicitude to offer everyone help in responding appropriately to this vocation and divine grace, is the particular responsibility of the Successor of the Apostle Peter, who is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of the unity of both bishops and faithful. The supreme and fundamental priority of the Church in all times – to lead mankind to the meeting with God – must be supported by the commitment to achieve a shared witness of faith among all Christians.

(…)

In keeping with this, faithfully adhering to that duty to serve the universal communion of the Church, also in her visible manifestation, and making every effort to ensure that those who truly desire unity have the possibility to remain in it or to rediscover it, I decided, with the (…).

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