Wednesday, July 23, 2014

THE TRUE VISION OF ECUMENISM AND CHRISTIAN UNITY AS POPE FRANCIS ENVISIONS IT AND IT IS IN CONTINUITY WITH POPE BENEDICT'S VISION!

I am all in favor of true Christian Unity. I am also in favor of increasing partial Christian Unity. For example, the Eastern Orthodox Churches are in almost complete union with the Catholic Church except they do not acknowledge the pope as the head of the Church but I do believe they recognize him (at least most Orthodox Christians) as the Bishop of Rome. The sacrament of Holy Orders is in tact with the Orthodox and thus all of the other sacraments of the Church are in tact too. I hope one day that there will be inter-communion between the Orthodox and Catholics as well as full corporate union.

The Reformation denoninations or "communions" are further away from full communion or even partial communion with the Catholic Church. Every Protestant denomination including the Anglican Communion have an invalid Sacrament of Holy Orders. Historic Reformation denominations reject Holy Orders as a Sacrament. Anglican claim to have vaid orders but this is a fallacy. Any denomination that has invalid Holy Orders cannot have valid sacraments except for Holy Baptism if properly celebrated according to the mind of the Church and marriage.

Thus the only way to true ecumenism and Christian Unity is what Saint Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict have initiated and Pope Francis is continuing. When Saint John Paul II allowed Anglican/Episcopal bishops and priests to come into the full communion and unity of the Catholic Church they need to be validly ordained in the Catholic Church, which meant they needed to be validly confirmed in the Sacrament of Confirmation, needed to make their First Holy Communion also as well as their First Confession, this was and is the way to true Christian Unity and ecumenism. As Anglicans/Episcopalians, not only were these bishops and priests not ordained, they weren't even confirmed and they have never received or celebrated a valid Holy Communion. Their confessions were not valid either.

Pope Benedict kicked St. John Paul's Pastoral Provision up a major notch when His Holiness established the Anglian Ordinariate. The ecumenism in this is that the Holy Father acknowledges the patrimony of the Anglican Heritage even after their break from Rome, and has allowed that patrimony to continue in the Ordinariate's liturgy and sacraments as well as tradition of the Liturgy of the Hours in the Book of Common Prayer.

This would never have been possible without the Second Vatican Council!

And now Pope Francis in continuity with Pope Benedict continues his tradition of being the pope of Christian unity by encouraging Anglicans and Episcopalians to come into the true unity of the true Church through the Anglican Ordinariate.

This is what Pope Francis endorsed yesterday, the Anglican Ordinariate's outreach to Anglicans/Episcopalians encouraging them to join the Anglican Ordinariate and thus continue the journey to true Christian Unity:

The endorsement was delivered in a letter from the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, to Monsignor Keith Newton, the Ordinary of the Ordinariate.

The full text of Archbishop Mennini’s letter reads as follows:

“At the request of the Secretariat of State, I have been asked to inform you that the Holy Father Francis, on learning of the national day of exploration entitled “Called to be One”, organised by the various Groups of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and due to take place on Saturday 6 September 2014, wishes to convey his good wishes and prayers for a successful and inspiring event. The Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing upon all those persons who are participating in this significant event and working in any way for the promotion and presentation of the Catholic Faith and the Gospel in Great Britain”.

The Nuncio ends with his own prayerful good wishes for a very successful day.

Pope Francis’ blessing on the exploration day and Archbishop Mennini’s words of support for it follow a statement of welcome for the initiative from Cardinal Vincent Nichols. In his capacity as President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, the Cardinal said: “the Ordinariate both enriches the Catholic Church with Catholic aspects of the beautiful heritage and culture of Anglican patrimony and advances the cause of unity which must be the ultimate aim of all ecumenical activity… I wish you every success with this initiative. I hope it will attract many interested enquirers”.

Last week Mgr Newton warmly invited all those who are interested in the Ordinariate to attend the exploration day “whether because they are considering their future or just because they would like to see more of what we are and what we do” . Mgr Newton’s invitation came in his response to the Church of England General Synod’s decision to allow women to be ordained as bishops. In the same statement Mgr Newton said that, though that decision was a very happy one for many within the Church of England, it made the position undeniably harder for those within the Anglican Church who still longed for unity with Rome.

The Ordinariate was set up by Pope Benedict in 2011 to make it possible for Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church to do so, bringing with them much of the heritage and traditions of Anglicanism. Pope Benedict described these as “treasures to be shared”. On the exploration day, each of the 40 or so Ordinariate groups across the country will host a different event, with the common theme of the vision for Christian unity which is at the heart of the Ordinariate.

31 comments:

qwikness said...

I believe Methodists and AME can join the Ordinate too.

Anonymous said...

"Intact" is one word.

Marc said...

Here's the problem with Catholic ecumenism: it always seems to misunderstand to some meaningful degree the target of the ecumenical effort. As an example, I cite your first paragraph of this post discussing the Eastern Orthodox.

To say that the problem is mostly about the papacy is to drastically misunderstand their position. By misunderstanding their position, it reduces the discussion to a one-sided polemic seen through a Catholic lens.

In reality, the Orthodox see Catholics as heretics and schismatics. The pope isn't the bishop of Rome because he isn't a bishop (or even a priest or even actually baptized). He can't be because there are no sacraments outside the Orthodox Church, and Catholics are most decidedly outside the Orthodox Church, having abandoned the Orthodox faith in the ninth century or so.

Now, does that reality affect the ecumenical dialogue? Because in that reality, their people are dialoging with the hope that Rome might one day return to the Orthodox Church, just as Rome is hoping they return to the jurisdiction of Rome. In other words, in these dialogues, it is assumed that Rome is the one doing to lecturing and everyone might return home. In reality, they are all trying to get Rome to come to their side.

So, the dialogue is useless.

Gene said...

I do not see much hope for protestantism as a whole other than accepting full Communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Most of the major denominations have gone secular/humanist, and the congregationalist groups continue to divide like some terrible cellular organism. Every time I drive down the road, I see another New Life Church, a Jesus Saves Community Church, a Grace Point Church, or some Sword of Joshua thing in a metal building out on the Frontage Road. No doctrine, no theology, no real Sacraments other than preaching. Not very encouraging. The Catholic Church, even at its Vat II worst, is the only hope for true Christian Unity.

Marc said...

As to the idea that "this wouldn't have been possible without the Second Vatican Council," you are wrong. Uniatism happened without the Second Vatican Council. And millions of people converted to Catholicism without the Second Vatican Council.

Gene said...

Yes, Marc, why this insane need to keep playing some intense game of ecclesiological Twister trying to defend Vat II? It was/is a loser for the Church. It is like somebody bought an ugly pair of shoes that do not fit but insists upon continuing to wear them because they do not want to admit their dumb purchase.

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - Actually, many Orthodox recognize the Pope as Bishop of Rome.

From the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America website:
"Amid the crush of news reports in the past month that followed Pope Benedict's unprecedented resignation from the papacy, one of the most intriguing was the decision by His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, to attend Pope Francis' installation as Bishop of Rome. The occasion is being presented in the media as something that has not happened since the ecclesiastical schism that separated Christian East and Christian West in the eleventh century. But that characterization is almost certainly wrong--this is quite likely the first time in history that a Bishop of Constantinople will attend the installation of a Bishop of Rome. And this is a profoundly bold step in ecumenical relations between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholics, one that could have lasting significance."

Yes, he is recognized as a bishop and yes, he is recognized as Bishop of Rome.

Good Father McDonald is right in saying that the formation of the Anglican Ordinariate and many - if not most - ecumenical steps could not have been taken had the Church not come to a deeper understanding of the relationship that exists between Baptized Christians and expressed this understanding in the Second Vatican Council's Unitatis Redentigratio.

Marc said...

Pater, you are incorrect. Your quote from GoArch is inapposite here.

I thank you for helping to prove my point about the pointless nature of Catholic ecumenism, though. Since you are (or were) your diocese's person tasked with ecumenism and you still know so little (nothing?) about Orthodox ecclesiology and sacramental theology, it demonstrates that any discussion you have with them will be useless.

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - From Catholic News Service, 26 Oct 2007: "Orthodox and Roman Catholics recognize that the bishop of Rome has primacy among all the world's bishops, although they disagree on the extent to which his leadership translates into a concrete exercise of authority."

From the Catholic News Agency, 15 Nov 2007: " A joint commission of Orthodox and Catholic theologians has agreed that the Pope has primacy over all bishops, though disagreements about the extent of his authority still continue."

These are reports from Catholic-Orthodox dialogues in which participants are Catholic and Orthodox Bishops and theologians. It seems they do not share your understanding of Orthodox ecclesiology and sacramental theology.

How might you explain this?

By the way, I'm not involved in these dialogues, other than as a reader of the agreed statements that follow them, so making me the target of your posts is pointless.

Marc said...

Those are about the office of the papacy. In Orthodox theology, apostolic succession is not just a laying on of hands as it is in Catholic theology. In order for they're too be valid apostolic succession in Orthodoxy, there must also be a keeping of the Orthodox faith. Since the pope has not kept the Orthodox faith, he is not in apostolic succession--he isn't an actual bishop.

As I said before, there are no sacraments outside the Orthodox Church. This is the ecclesiology of St. Cyprian and it is the doctrine of the Orthodox. So there is no baptism outside the Orthodox Church and there are no holy orders. So, while they're might be a guy in Rome who calls himself its bishop, he's as much a bishop as we would say the Archbishop of Canterbury is a bishop (hint: he's not a bishop).

To hammer the point home, there is, in fact, an Orthodox bishop in Rome. I think he's from the Russian Church Abroad.

So, if the pope were Orthodox, he would have the primacy. Since he isn't, the Patriarch of Constantinople has the primacy.

I'm glad to hear you're not involved in any of these dialogues.

Marc said...

Please forgive my usages of "they're" that should be "there."

Flavius Hesychius said...

Marc's right. To the Orthodox, "ecumenism" means Rome acknowledging her past "mistakes", starting with the end of the Byzantine Papacy.

That Catholics and Orthodox believe the same thing 97% of the time makes no difference. Catholic sacraments, to the Orthodox, are invalid.

Gene said...

Marc and Flavius, Even I know that. I am surprised that Ignotus, who tells us he has read many renowned theologians and Catholic scholars and who thinks so highly of himself as your basic jack off all trades Priest does not.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

What everyone is missing is that the true Church calls out the truth, not those who have broken communion with her through schismatic acts. The same would be true of the true Church's declaration of other schismatic so such as the SSPX. SO THE TRUE Church says that Orthodox Holy Orders and other sacraments are valid. It matters not what the Orthodox say about the true Church!

Flavius Hesychius said...

Um... Gene... did you mean jack of all trades &c?

Yes, Fr. McDonald, I understand what you're saying; however, to them the Orthodox Church is the true church, not Rome.

Catholic-Orthodox relations are not like Catholic-Protestant relations. Whereas mainline protestant groups "catholicified" their liturgies in the middle of the 20th century, the Orthodox have done no such thing (as it would be unspeakable). V2, to the Orthodox, is viewed as an example of what happens when Papal authority is abused.

Now, even if Constantinople were to accept the supremacy of Rome (highly unlikely at best), the other patriarchs would also have to accept it. Moscow WILL NEVER accept such. Constantinople may have the prestige of antiquity (and the influence that goes with it), but Moscow has the population to back up any statement it makes.

I pray for the reunion of East and West, but, realistically, there are wounds I don't think will ever be healed.

Gene said...

Flavius, there were no typos or misspelled words in the post to which you refer.

Pater Ignotus said...

Excerpt from the Letter of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to Pope Francis, 30 June 2014:

"To His Holiness and Beatitude Pope Francis of Senior Rome: rejoice in the Lord...."

Excerpt from the OCA website in answer to the Q, "What is the current view of the OCA on the validity of Roman Catholic orders?"

A: "Concerning Roman Catholic orders: Within the OCA Roman Catholic clergy generally are received into the Orthodox Church through “vesting”; that is, they are not ordained anew."

Excerpt from OrthodoxAnswers.org to the Q "Is it true that the Russian Orthodox do not recognize the sacraments of Roman Catholics as valid? If so are there any other orthodox churches that feel the same way?"

A: "Yes, it is fair to conclude that since the Moscow Patriarchate recognizes the Roman Catholic priesthood as having ecclesial reality (Roman Catholic priests are received through vesting, not reordination), it follows that Roman Catholic sacraments are recognized as having ecclesial reality in spite of being defective."

A veritable WEALTH of information on the Re-Baptizing of "Latins" seeking membership in the Orthodox Church is found here:

http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/The-Manner-of-Reception-of-Roman-Catholic-Converts-into-the-Orthodox-Church-Fr-George-Dragas.pdf

Excerpts from that report:

The decision of the Great Orthodox Synod of Constantinople in 1484 - Latins (Catholics) are not re-baptized. (pg 5-ff)

[Here's a part of the Q&A to which the Latin responds: "Do you submit to an anathema, as our holy and divine Fathers did,
those who dared to say the Creed with some sort of addition, bubbling that the
Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son as he proceeds from the Father?"]

Bubbling!

The decision of the Great Synod of Constantinople of 1755 - Latins are not re-baptized.

"...the main objection to Roman Catholic Baptism was primarily the
manner in which it was celebrated."

It was not a question of a valid sacrament of Baptism by Catholics, but a defective form (not immersing three times).

Another tidbit: "The 1667 Synod of Moscow actually reversed the decisions of the Synod of 1620. The practice of re-baptizing Latins who returned to Orthodoxy was abandoned and reception by Chrismation was adopted." (pg 18)

Good historical info from Fr. George Dragas.




Marc said...

Pater, can you try to distill your point for me? I think it's lost in quotes.

I know it's anecdotal, but I literally just had lunch with an Orthodox priest (like a couple hours ago). I can assure you that Catholics are baptized when entering the Orthodox Church. This is the normal mode of reception of converts. When they are not baptized, it is not a recognition of the "validity" of the former Baptism, it is an exercise of economia and a recognition of the power of Chrismation, which is always done.

So, while it is nice that you've found some sources, and I do want to read them more, I am constrained to disagree based on what I've learned in my study of Orthodoxy one-on-one with an Orthodox priest over a nearly two year period.

George said...

Marc, there are some in the East who hold the view that Roman Catholic sacraments are valid and licit. There are others who hold that they are valid but defective. To the more conservative of the Orthodox they are invalid. Therein lies a crucial difference between the Roman Church and the Eastern Orthodox. Since we have someone at the head of our Church (The Holy Father) we as a Church can speak with one voice on doctrinal matters. While on many aspects of their doctrine there is a consensus,since the Eastern churches are conciliar, a confederation of ecclesial communities, there is no unified voice which communicates every teaching with conformity and consistency.As far as the filioque phrase which was the "straw that broke the camels back" so to speak, there is plenty of scriptural support for the Roman position.John 14:7 "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father". In John 11:30 Christ says, "The Father and I are one." Christ was begotten of the Father we hold to be true. We do not have dual Gods because
that would not would not be compatible with Who God is, that is He for Whom there cannot be a co-existent separate other God who is also equal. God is God because He is above all and there is no other equal.So there is a Unity of Substance, Being and Essence, and a diversity- a Trinity of Persons. Now, if as Christ says "The Father and I are one", cannot we hold that the Spirit also proceeds from Him? This does not mean that there cannot exists differences in the matter of how this procession occurs.There are other texts that can support the Church's position on this such as John 20:22, Galatians 4:6, Philippians 1:19, and Romans 8:9. The Orthodox we know do not accept our interpretation on this but I don't see how they can conclude that the Catholic Church came to it's position without any substantial scriptural support or development from Sacred Tradition . The Eastern Orthodox communion and the Roman Catholic communion view binding Church authority quite differently and have a fundamentally different
approach to theological insight and development.

Pater Ignotus said...

From Orthodoxengland.org

"Therefore, using dispensation, most Orthodox do not receive Roman Catholics (or Protestants) into the Church through baptism, as they would Non-Christians and pagans. This is not because the Church believes that there are any sacraments outside the (Orthodox) Church, but because Roman Catholics (and Protestants) do have sacramental forms. Notably in the case of baptism, in principle, all Roman Catholics (and Protestants) are ‘baptised’ with water in the Name of the Holy Trinity."

Marc said...

Pater, I think you have found the basis for some agreement here with your latest quotation. It is my understanding, just as in your latest quotation, that there is no baptism outside the Orthodox Church (because there are no Mysteries outside the Church). However, as it says, one who has undergone a "baptism" outside the Church could be brought into the Church without "another" baptism. This is not because the prior baptism was "valid," but because being received into the Church fills up whatever was lacking in the prior baptism. This is the idea of economia. This is a rather controversial topic in Orthodox circles as you have shown. When the next Pan-Orthodox Synod is held in 2016, the topic of reception of converts will be a topic of discussion.

As an aside, I want to introduce a complication to our discussion. You have been citing things from the Ecumenical Patriarch and the GOARCH, which is fine. But, you should know that there is no small movement of very influential monks who are watching the Ecumenical Patriarch like a hawk on the issue of false ecumenism. They are ready and willing to stop commemorating him in the Liturgy if he over supports this false ecumenism, which he has been doing for some time with the Pope.

Now, I don't care to have a discussion with you about that. In fact, I think that we're having a good discussion right now, and I hope we can keep it up. I just want to point out that just because the Ecumenical Patriarch might use some flowery language when discussing the pope does not mean that he might not find himself deposed at some later date for that very same language.

George, there are many problems with the filioque. Some of them are theological and some are hierarchical. In a broad sense, the filioque, as it has been dogmatically defined in earlier times in the Roman Church, is seen as heretical. Moreover, the unilateral imposition of the phrase into the Creed is a major problem considering the Councils determined that the Creeds could not be changed except by Councils. In more recent times, the Roman Church has backed off a lot of the attempted theological doctrines that held that the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son. Now, there is some agreement about the eternal procession versus the temporal procession. But, this was not always the case. Suffice it to say that the ones doing the changing on this particular doctrine were the West and not the East.

Over all, my point is simply this: there are some, as the original post on which we are all commenting, who assert that Orthodoxy is Catholicism without the pope. I only want to show that this is far from the case. There is a wholly different understanding not only of Sacramental theology and ecclesiology, but also soteriology, which we haven't even discussed yet.

George said...

The Catholic Church's position and theology on filique is not a problem for me. Is it the Eastern Orthodox position that we deny that the Son's eternal participation is intrinsic to the Spirit's procession? I believe that the Son eternally participates with the Father in the procession of the Holy Spirit, that together each Person accounts for a procession of the Spirit. The Church holds ( if I'm not mistaken) that this is complimentary to the dogma that the Spirit proceeds from the Father alone as His ultimate Source or Cause which is more in line with the Eastern position. Of course the Orthodox don't accept this.


Marc said...

George, here's a quotation from OrthodoxWiki that, I think, is responsive to your post. I've read this same sort of thing in other places, so I take it to be representative of at least one objection to the Filioque.

"The filioque distorts Orthodox Triadology by making the Spirit a subordinate member of the Trinity. Traditional Triadology consists in the notion that for any given trait, it must be either common to all Persons of the Trinity or unique to one of them. Thus, Fatherhood is unique to the Father, while begottenness is unique to the Son, and procession unique to the Spirit. Godhood, however, is common to all, as is eternality, uncreatedness, and so forth. Positing that something can be shared by two Persons (i.e., being the source of the Spirit's procession) but not the other is to elevate those two Persons at the expense of the other. Thus, the balance of unity and diversity is destroyed."

rcg said...

Check the preface of Holy Trinity. It expressly addresses this. Although it is not a source, I expect it has not been overlooked for review and is, therefore an accurate representation of teaching.

George said...


"The filioque distorts Orthodox Triadology by making the Spirit a subordinate member of the Trinity. Thus, Fatherhood is unique to the Father, while begottenness is unique to the Son, and procession unique to the Spirit."

One could likewise make the argument that because the Son is begotten, this makes Him subordinate to the Father (if one wants to look at it from that perspective which I don't). Fatherhood and begotteness and procession are not equivalent as terms of comparison anyway. The first two are of a quality, a characteristic, or state of being. One IS a father, one IS begotten. Procession refers to an action, an emanation by the Holy Spirit, a Divine Person.

Marc,here is a link to an interesting discussion of the topic (although toward the end when it really gets interesting, it is unreadable for some reason-looks like the last part of the file is corrupted):


http://www.catholic-legate.com/apologetics/thechurch/articles/filioque.aspx



Gene said...

The Eastern position is ultimately non-Trinitarian.

Marc said...

George, I haven't read your link yet. But I wanted to say that you are onto something in your comment. In the East, the Father is seen as monarchical in a sense (but not in a way that results in subordinationism of the Son and Spirit). I don't know about your distinction between characteristics and actions. I want to read your link before going further.

Gene, I am still trying to understand what you mean by that. I think I have forgotten your argument about it. Can you share it with me again, please?

rcg said...

George, One was begotten, of Mary. But was always part of the Father, as was the Spirit. I think the obstacle is conceptualizing The Son or the Father as human father and son. Those are simile, but less limiting. These terms are supposed to make the true nature of the Godhead accessible, if not comprehended.

George said...

rcg

Christ was born of Mary, but begotten of the Father. This is part of our Creed. One cannot truly understand this with human understanding alone. What this means is that we do NOT have more than one God. We have just one God, but more than one Person. There are three distinct Persons, but only one GOD. These Persons are all equally God, in Essence, Being and Substance.

George said...


Why I accept the Roman Catholic Church and not the Orthodox Church position on Original sin:

Adam and Eve, being created and likewise existing in a perfect state, the consequences of their sin would be the greater. If one were to fall from a higher level or elevation, the consequential damage would be more severe. So there would now exist sin and death in this fallen world which because of their sin, the first parents and their descendents would now then inhabit. Now if we were to inherent the consequences of that first sin and not the guilt, then what would be the necessity for baptism, since to inherit the sin would not be to inherit the guilt of that sin but only the consequences of that sin such as death and concupiscence? If we do not have guilt of sin, how can it be said that we have the sin? Can it be said we have sin without being guilty of it ? If one then says that
we don't inherit the sin, then why would we inherit the consequences? Even in our own system of laws, one must be found guilty before suffering the consequences. Sin and and guilt and death (if the sin is serious enough) are all connected.

Gene said...

Marc, it gets to be a theo-logical/philosophical discussion. The Trinity is such a mystery, anyway, that all paradigms break down into modalism or some other disaster, but here is what I was taught in History of Doctrine classes: Either "proceeding" is an attribute of the Godhead, or it is a unique attribute of the Holy Spirit. If of the Godhead, then it must be an attribute of all three Persons, else a variance is introduced into the Trinity and all are not equal. If somehow "proceeding" is an attribute unique to the Holy Spirit, then this raises the issue of how the HS can have something the other two Persons do not. Now, if the Spirit proceeds only from the Father, how can the Son be bypassed without making Him less than either the Father or the Spirit? If the we try to say the Spirit proceeds only from the Son, then we are denying the completeness of the Godhead. The only way around it is to argue that "proceeding" is not an attribute…not an essential aspect of God or Divinity. So, then, what is it? Many have given a Platonic/Neo-Platonic answer…that the procession is a "reflection" of the Godhead as in a mirror, or a "refraction" of the Godhead as light through a prism. These all walk the modalist line. The problem with Platonism/Neo-Platonism is that each "reflected" level is lower than the one before it…as in model to copy. There is no good answer other than the Spirit must proceed from the Father and the Son or else we reduce the Godhead somehow. Also, if we argue that proceeding is not an attribute of the Godhead, then we are positing a force that acts upon the Godhead from without or that is somehow separate from it. That won't work, either. Proceeding must be a primary attribute of the Godhead and, if of the Father, then necessarily of all three. This is a short and inadequate account of a problem that has been argued at the highest doctrinal levels for centuries, but you get the drift.