Sunday, January 31, 2016

THE EASTERN ORTHODOX ARE ABOUT TO HAVE THEIR FIRST COUNCIL IN 1000 YEARS! THIS NEW COUNCIL IS SURE TO BE AN UPDATING COUNCIL AND THUS WILL BE EASTERN ORTHODOXY'S SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL! I WONDER WHAT THEIR LITURGY WILL LOOK LIKE AFTER THIS HISTORIC EVENT?


Recently I had a conversation with a Greek Orthodox parishioner in town who told me that the Greek Orthodox Church is experiencing many of the negative things that Catholics experienced in the Liturgy about 40 years ago. I found that comment interesting. I wonder what this new Council in more than 1000 years will do for the Orthodox. I suspect it will update that Church which is badly in need of updating. Perhaps they will embrace the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption and pave the way to full communion with the Church which they broke in 1024? Or perhaps they will update their Liturgy stuck in the year 1000 AD? Who knows. I hope they embrace inculturation and simplicity of liturgy and vesture. But who knows? I wonder what noble simplicity would mean for the Divine Liturgy??????

This in fact is a Greek Orthodox Church with the altar not hidden behind the iconostasis and allows for the Divine Liturgy to be celebrated facing the congregation. Cool, no? I am sure this will spread like wildfire in the Orthodox Churches as soon as their new Council is over if not before!

This is from the Italian blogger, Sandro Magister at his Chiesa blog:


The pan-Orthodox council will take place. The heads of the autocephalous Orthodox Churches have finally decided on it, at a recent meeting in Chambésy, Switzerland, on Lake Geneva (see photo), to overcome the last obstacles to the celebration of this event, not convened for more than a thousand years.

It will be held from June 16-27 of this year on the island of Crete, a few miles from the coastal city of Chania, in the accommodations of the modern and welcoming Orthodox Academy built in the 1960’s with the spiritual patronage of the patriarchate of Constantinople and with money from the Evangelical Church of Germany:

> Orthodox Academy of Crete


On Sunday, June 19, the feast of Pentecost on the Eastern calendar, the liturgy will be celebrated in Heraklion at the cathedral of Saint Minas.

Previously, the setting anticipated for the council was the cathedral of Constantinople, the church of Saint Irene in Istanbul, but the crisis that erupted between Moscow and Ankara after the downing of the Russian jet on the border with Syria forced a change of venue.

And the patriarchate of Moscow willingly accepted the move to Crete. The rivalry between the powerful Russian Church, which encompasses two thirds of the world’s Orthodox population, and the ecumenical patriarchate of Constantinople, which numbers less than three thousand faithful in Istanbul but boasts a primacy of honor over all of Orthodoxy, has in fact been for years one of the most serious conflicts within the Christian East, with important repercussions for relations with the Church of Rome:

> The Russian Veto Against Francis and Bartholomew (8.1.2014)

This is one of the reasons behind the great importance of the speeches given in Chambésy on January 22 by the religious leaders of the “Second Rome” and of the “Third Rome,” delivered in Greek and Russian respectively but conveniently made available in English.

That of the patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew:

> Keynote Address by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew…

And that of the patriarch of Moscow and all Rus’, Kirill:

> Patriarch Kirill Addresses the Sinaxis…

The first of the two speeches is especially helpful in reconstructing the genesis and agenda of the upcoming assembly.

But it is also important to read the final account of the assembly, published in English by the patriarchate of Moscow:

> Synaxis of Primates of Local Orthodox Church completes its work in Geneva

in Chambésy an agreement “in extremis” was reached on the procedural rules of the next pan-Orthodox council, without which it could not have gone forward. The rules have been condensed into sixteen articles and concern the convocation of the council, its structure, the powers of the presidency and secretariat, the organization of the work, the approval of texts, the presence of observers of the non-Orthodox Churches.

The text of the rules is available in English on the website of the patriarchate of Moscow:

> Organization and Working Procedure…

It must be noted, however, that the patriarchate of Antioch has not signed on to the rules endorsed by all the other delegates, in practice holding in reserve the threat of withdrawing from the council and therefore invalidating it without the prior resolution of its dispute with the patriarchate of Jerusalem over its appointment of a metropolitan in Qatar, an appointment judged as illegitimate by Antioch.

But as for the matters to be discussed in the council, a full agreement has been reached on four of the eight preparatory documents.

The documents approved concern:

- the autonomy of the Churches and the manner of proclaiming it;
- the importance of fasting and its observance today;
- relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world;
- the mission of the Orthodox Church in the contemporary world in terms of peace, freedom, and fraternity among peoples.

(With regard to this last point, in Chambésy the patriarchate of Moscow secured the approval of the other Orthodox Churches for its conduct in the crisis in Ukraine).

A fifth document has been approved by everyone except for the patriarchate of Antioch. And it concerns “the sacrament of marriage and its impediments.”

The texts of these five documents are also available in French on the website of the patriarchate of Moscow:

> https://mospat.ru/fr


The texts not approved instead concern:

- the autocephaly of the national Churches and a process for implementing it;
- the “diptychs,” meaning the hierarchical organization among the Churches and its recognition in liturgical celebrations;
- the establishment of a common calendar among the Orthodox Churches and prospectively among all the Christian Churches, in particular on the date of Easter.

This last point is one that Moscow patriarch Kirill has said he is particularly opposed to discussing.

The duration of the pan-Orthodox council will be brief, just twelve days. But broad-based interest has emerged in holding more of them, at intervals of five or ten years.

Invitations will be issued - but only for the opening and closing sessions - to representatives of other Christian Churches, following the example of the non-Catholic observers at Vatican Council II. For the Catholic Church, the first invitation will likely go to Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the pontifical council for Christian unity.

What happens at the pan-Orthodox council will show what kind of new equilibrium will emerge between the two most significant leaders of all Orthodoxy, Kirill and Bartholomew.

17 comments:

Charles G said...

I hope they don't touch one iota of their liturgy. One thing I admire about the Easterners is that liturgical tradition still has value to them. Here in the West, everything old is automatically bad, everything new is automatically good, the treasures of Catholic liturgical tradition are supposed to be thrown on to the rubbish heap, and the world is supposed to have been started entirely anew around 1970.

Anonymous said...

I have a close friend who is an Orthodox bishop and theologian here in the US. They have seen what VII has done to the Church of Rome so this in no way will be their VII. Liturgy isn't even on the table for the council, unlike us they wouldn't never dream of wrecking the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrisostome for some piece of garbage like we have. So be certain, this is not the Orthodox version of VII, I think plenty of people have learned from our mistakes

Anonymous said...

So you are hoping the Orthodox will change their liturgy. Why? What does it matter to you? It has served them well for over 1500 years. Why make silly changes like turning around altars and destroying the screens. To what purpose? Look what happened when we turned the altars around and removed the communion rails. I don't for one minute think the Orthodox will go down that road. They have seen the utter destruction the Novus Ordo has caused.

Dialogue said...

I don't think they're that stupid.

Flavius Hesychius said...

Recently I had a conversation with a Greek Orthodox parishioner in town who told me that the Greek Orthodox Church is experiencing many of the negative things that Catholics experienced in the Liturgy about 40 years ago. I found that comment interesting.

Why? The Greek Archdiocese of America is the laughing stock of the Orthodox world.


I wonder what this new Council in more than 1000 years will do for the Orthodox.

It's not hard to find out. They've released the list of topics, so...

I suspect it will update that Church which is badly in need of updating.

Says a priest of a church whose leaders threw away its ancient traditions and treats those members who love those traditions like they're trash.

Perhaps they will embrace the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption and pave the way to full communion with the Church which they broke in 1024?

Nope. And, Communion between Rome and the rest of the Church broke off in the late 12th century, when Antioch refused to commune Latins because of their 'errors'. Even then, it continued in some places in Eastern Europe until the 17th or 18th century, when it formally stopped.

Or perhaps they will update their Liturgy stuck in the year 1000 AD?I hope they embrace inculturation and simplicity of liturgy and vesture. But who knows? I wonder what noble simplicity would mean for the Divine Liturgy??????

Nothing, because the liturgy isn't on the agenda. I suspect the reason Rome is so interested in the upcoming Synod is because they mistakenly believe that the garbage Novus Ordo and the Protestant culture surrounding it will somehow become acceptable if they gain that coveted stamp of Orthodox approval.

I'll commit suicide before returning to the Novus Ordo, or anything like it.

Gene said...

They damn well don't need to copy anything Rome has done.

Anonymous said...

The answer is "no" on the Immaculate Conception and Assumption (whether the Orthodox will embrace those as dogmas). Why? On the former, because Catholics and Orthodox have different views on original sin. On the second topic, the Orthodox do observe the Assumption, but it is unlikely they would ever consider it a Dogma, that is something essential for our salvation, as in their view, whether Mary was or was not assumed into heaven has no bearing on our salvation (unlike say the Virgin Birth or the resurrection). And as for "who broke away from whom", they will note that western Christianity is far more divided than eastern Christianity. There was no equivalent of the Reformation in the east, while in the West, you've got Catholics, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists, countless types of Baptists, Church of God, Church of Christ, Mormons....and on and on.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Keep in mind that the Protestant Reformation was very political also and based upon nationalism. Orthodoxy is very political as well, nationalistic and usually the state religion (as is Anglicanism in England).

Most people do not realize that after the Reformation, that the religion or denomination of the nation hinged on the religion of the monarch. If he was Lutheran, all were Lutheran. If he was Presbyterian, all were Presbyterian. In England, the same was true briefly between Catholic and Protestant monarchs although Anglicanism is unique and not completely Protestant in its early days although heavily influenced eventually by the Reformation.

Orthodoxy has not been as fragmented as the Western Church which indeed had the Reformation that opened the door to further fragmentation.

But orthodoxy still contends with old heresies in some of its Churches. There isn't complete unity in Orthodoxy and in fact according to nationalism it is just as fragmented and some churches embrace old heresies from the first and second centuries.

Marc said...

The only thing that might "change" in Orthodox practice as a result of this Synod is the fasting regulations. The most serious change is that fish and oil might be allowed on more days during Lent.

An Orthodox synod doesn't have the authority to "change" the liturgy for the entire Church. Even if it did, this synod (very smartly) has to have unanimity. Any updating will be shut down by the Moscow Patriarchate, who might be the only ecclesial authorities on this planet who actually still believe in the Christian religion.

Anonymous said...

The Orthodox claim sacramental unity---that is, they believe the same things whether Greek, Antiochian, Russian, etc., like the 7 sacraments, male-only priesthood and episcopate, marriage between a man and a woman, and opposition to abortion. They do not claim administrative unity, but perhaps we should understand their fear of centralized power, given much of Eastern Orthodoxy (unlike Christians in the West) suffered from decades of oppressive communist rule.

While the Vatican points--legitimately---to serious obstacles between Catholics and Anglicans these days---there is a Catholic tendency to minimize differences between Catholics and Orthodox, as if it were just a matter of "negotiating" appropriate papal powers in a reunited church and working out some wording of the Creed. But the two faiths are different---obviously governance being one of those differences---but there are plenty of other differences too like the Creed, Immaculate Conception, Purgatory, statues in churches, divorces, etc. No one has ever explained to me terms that would be satisfactory to both sides in the event a reunion could be achieved.


Flavius Hesychius said...

Orthodoxy is very political as well, nationalistic and usually the state religion

I've brought it up before, and I'll do it again: why does no one have a problem with Latin American nations and their constitutionally-defined 'special' recognition of the Catholic Church? Wikipedia lists 3 countries as giving Orthodoxy special recognition, whilst it list 13 that give Catholicism special recognition (excluding Vatican City). So... why the hypocrisy? Are you saying the Catholic Church isn't involved in the politics of Spain, Argentina, or Italy?

Funny thing, though, is that Orthodoxy in America is almost totally apolitical, whilst the Catholic Church in the US can't go five minutes without being political. But I forget, Catholics go by the 'My rules are not your rules' mentality.

some churches embrace old heresies from the first and second centuries.

You need to learn to give specific examples.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The Holy Syriac Orthodox Church and there is one in Augusta is a monophysite Orthodox Church:

The Christological position called monophysitism asserted that in the person of Jesus Christ there was only one, divine nature rather than two natures, divine and human, as asserted at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. This of course makes this branch of Ortodoxy heretical even by Orthodox standards. Orthodoxy is splintered as many Orthodox Churches returned to the foll communion of the Catholic Church obedient to the pope.

The East is united to the West in those Eastern Churches which never went into schism and those that did, some returned to full communion with the papacy of Rome. Thus Orthodoxy is related to Protestantism even though that is a western experience.

Anonymous said...

The Orthodox would more likely say that Catholicism is related to Protestantism, as the latter came from the former, not from the Eastern Orthodox. That is why the Orthodox claim that their religion is without the (in their view, unauthorized) additions of Catholicism and the subtractions of Protestantism. That is why in their view, they are the original Church---at 1054, Catholics went their way and then the West splintered into countless sects and subdenominations.

Again, I have heard no suggestions about how the two could be reconciled.

Flavius Hesychius said...

The Oriental Orthodox churches say they aren't monophysite, but miaphysite. Even then, by your own admittance, they aren't considered 'normal' Orthodox. I don't think I need to point out that monophysitism is a fifth century heresy, not 'old heresies from the first and second centuries.'

Regardless, this Council is supposed to deal with the question of the Orientals. It's entirely within possibility that communion between us and them will be restored. So much for your 'divided' Orthodoxy idea.

Thus Orthodoxy is related to Protestantism even though that is a western experience.

This is a ridiculous statement. But, this statement has comical value. It's power rests in whether one views 'Protestant' as a slur or not. Clearly, Fr. McDonald, you think 'Protestant' is a negative slur.

(I'm way more interested in knowing why people aren't going 'But... But... they can't have a council without the Pope!')

Flavius Hesychius said...

Anonymous,

They can't.

Gene said...

Sometimes the Catholic Church seems as divided as the protestant. Here is an appropriate joke:

A Baptist guy was marooned on an island alone for 20 years. Finally, a ship sites him and sends a party ashore to rescue him.
When the group arrives, he explains that he has been on the island alone for all this time. The group observes three log buildings on the island, and they ask him about them.
He replies, "Well, I needed shelter, so that first building is my house."
They asked, "What is the second building?"
He replies, "Well, I was thankful to God for saving me, so I built Him a church?"
Then, they asked, 'What about that third building?"
The Baptist responds: "Well, you know, it wasn't long before there was a split in the church..."

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the Orthodox, up here in Atlanta we may have had a first---the chaplain of the day for the House (who 99% of the time is Baptist), who gives the opening invocation, was none other than the pastor of Macon's Greek Orthodox Church, sponsored by a state representative from Sumter County (Jimmy Carter country). Not often you see a pastor with a clerical collar (Catholic, Orthodox or Episcopal) giving an invocation up here at the Gold Dome. But we should see a Catholic one give the invocation this Thursday which is Catholic day here at the Gold Dome.