Archive for November, 2009

Via Dr William Tighe and John (of Ad Orientem), an essay by Raymond A. Bucko SJ of Creighton University, on St Peter the Aleut – a saint canonized by the OCA in 1980, who (along with Father Alexis Toth, canonized also by the OCA in 1994) for many American Orthodox, has become a sort of “icon” of anti-Catholic sentiment. A summary of Peter’s vita and his hymnography may be found here.

Father Bucko’s conclusion:

The icons of Peter the Aleut both reveal and conceal a series of often violent interrelationships generated on the colonial frontiers of Russia’s eastern colonial expansion. Ironically, the focus of the Icon, Peter himself, is the least credible instance of violence in the amazing nexus of relations, often violent, generated by the encounters among European and Native groups. This story of violence creates its own terror – that the account of even a single act of violence has the potential to epitomize, solidify, and perpetuate complex divisions and oppositions. Violence and terror – or rumors thereof – transform social realities. The question, a topic for another paper, is whether icons of violence can also heal, reconcile, and unite those wounded and separated.

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Joel I. Barstad, Russian Catholic and professor of theology at St John Vianney Seminary in Denver, attempts to answer this question. From a rather interesting blog entitled The Augustana Greek Catholic: An Irregular Journal of Ecumenical Experiments.


Many Greek-Catholics define themselves as Orthodox-in-Communion-with-Rome and appeal to the First Christian Millennium as providing the foundation for this communion. This way of identifying themselves found confirmation in Joseph Ratzinger’s proposal that, with regard to the primacy, Rome need require nothing more from Orthodox churches than what was acknowledged during the First Millennium. With a similar conviction the Melkite synod in 1995 adopted the Zoghby Initiative as the framework within which it might reestablish communion with the Antiochian Orthodox Church, without breaking communion with Rome.

This article considers the viability of such a project in light of Pope John Paul II’s Ad tuendam fidem, and its companion commentary on the Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity, published in 1998.

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I’ve become a big fan of Fr John Hunwicke, a Church of England priest of the staunch Anglo-Papalist type (a subset of High Church Anglicans with a definite Romeward orientation) who also shows a high degree of interest in Eastern Christianity.

A recent series of posts at his blog, concerning the opening prayer Te igitur from the Roman Canon and its relation to ecclesiology, seems worthy of discussion here at Eirenikon, in part because a small minority of Western Rite Orthodox Christians under both the Antiochian and Russian Patriarchates pray the Roman Canon and include, in the Te igitur, commemorations of their Patriarch, Metropolitan, Holy Synod, local Bishop, President of the USA, etc.


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It’s been awhile …

… since I last updated my blogroll. Any interesting blogs I should be linking to?

[Update: It seems that my blogroll’s disappeared somehow. Hmm.]

[Update: Ah, it’s back!]

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(Thanks to our good friend Evagrius for news of an upcoming academic conference organized by the Orthodox Christian Studies Program at Fordham University. Registration for the Conference will begin in February.)

Orthodox Constructions of the West

(The Solon and Marianna Patterson Triennial Conference for the Theological and Historical Examination of the Orthodox/Catholic Dialogue)

June 28-30, 2010

Concept and Abstract:

In preparation for the publication of Orthodox Readings of Augustine (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2008), the co-founding directors of the Orthodox Christian Studies Program were struck by ways in which Orthodox authors, especially in the twentieth century, had created artificial categories of “East” and “West” and then used that distinction as a basis for self-definition. The history of Orthodox Christianity is typically narrated by Orthodox and nonOrthodox alike as developing in the ‘East’, which is geographically ambiguous, but usually refers to the region in Europe east of present-day Croatia, Hungary and Poland. In contemporary Orthodoxy, ‘West’ refers not simply to a geographical location, but to a form of civilization that was shaped and influenced by Latin Christendom, which includes both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. The “West,” thus, represents a cluster of theological, cultural and political ideas against which Orthodox self-identify. In other words, Orthodox self-identification often engages in a distorted apophaticism: Orthodoxy is what the “West” is not.

Given that much of the Orthodox world has until recently suffered oppression from the Ottomans and the Communists, one can read the creation of the “East-West” binary as a post-colonial search for an authentic Orthodox identity in the wake of such domination. After centuries of repression, it is not surprising that the Orthodox recovery of identity would take the form of opposition to that which is seemingly the religious, cultural and political “Other.” The question that the conference will attempt to answer is whether such a construction has as much to do with Orthodox identify formation vis-à-vis the West as it does with genuine differences. By creating this opposition to the “West,” do Orthodox communities not only misunderstand what Western Christians believe but, even more egregiously, have they come to believe certain things about their own tradition and teachings that are historically untrue? The importance of addressing these questions is not simply limited to the theological realm. There is evidence of anti-democracy and anti-human rights rhetoric coming from traditional Orthodox countries that have recently been liberated from communism, and this rhetoric often associates liberal forms of democracy and the notion of human rights in general as “Western” and, therefore, not Orthodox. In other words, the self-identification vis-à-vis the “West” is affecting the cultural and political debates in the traditional Orthodox countries in Eastern Europe. Insofar as this conference addresses the broader theme of identity formation, its impact is potentially far-reaching, as it hopes to influence the production of theological, cultural and political ideas within contemporary Orthodoxy.

The purpose of this conference is to explore how these artificial binaries were first created and, by exposing them, make possible a more authentic recovery of the rich Orthodox tradition that is unfettered by self-definition vis-à-vis the proximate other. It is also expected that the deconstruction of false caricatures of West will impact the discussion on culture and politics throughout the Orthodox world, as well as assist in moving the ecumenical conversation forward.

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Comment policy

Just a reminder that as blog owner I reserve the right to delete or edit comments that I deem to be inappropriate (foul, ad hominem, mean-spirited, provocative, etc.). I’ve been very forbearing about this over the past months and the comments coming from certain individuals (who have been warned several times) have not improved. I will not allow our valuable discussions here, toward greater mutual understanding between Eastern and Western Christendom, to be derailed by trollish behavior.

Yes, indeed, your blog owner is quite biased, and this blog has a very specific purpose: “Towards Orthodox-Catholic Reconciliation.” This does not mean that I want the blog to become an “echo chamber”: I continue to welcome comments from both Orthodox and Catholics who tend to have a more hardline anti-ecumenical attitude, as long as these views are expressed in a polite and charitable manner. In fact, the discussions here really depend on people voicing many different viewpoints!

If you make such comments, all your comments will be moderated, and if you keep sending such comments for me to moderate, you’ll be banned, full stop.

If you have any questions about my comment policy, or about any other aspect of the blog, you can contact me privately at eirenikonblog (at) me (dot) com.

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1077633850468I am proud to feature this interesting article by Catholic friend of the blog and frequent commenter, Michaël de Verteuil –

Of the two Patriarchs of Constantinople most closely associated with the East-West schism, Michael Cerularius (Keroularios) is clearly the lesser figure in Orthodoxy. Unlike Photius, Michael was not a great scholar and was not declared a saint after his death. As the latter schism was to become definitive, Michael correspondingly suffered more at the hands of Catholic historiography. In its more extreme forms, he stands accused of hubris, deceit, mendacity, treachery, and even homicidal intent. The purpose of this brief historical note is to offer a more nuanced picture which may help rehabilitate his reputation in the eyes of Catholic readers.


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