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What would be required for reconcilliation?

Discussion in 'Interfaith Discussion' started by James the Persian, Jul 24, 2007.

  1. James the Persian

    James the Persian Dreptcredincios Crestin

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    I've often been asked what would need to happen before Rome and Orthodoxy could be reconciled, what were the stumbling blocks to ending the Schism. I've always struggled to give a decent answer becaues the question of the differences between Rome and Orthodoxy, not to mention all of the unhappy history between us in the intervening centuries since our divide often causes me to fail to se the wood for the trees. I have, however, just stumbled across the following article (about 9 pages in all, though the main points are listed on about 3 of them) by Fr. Thomas Hopko that seems to set out nicely the minimum requirements from our perspective.

    It also notes, and this is important, that we too would have to repent and be willing to compromise on all else but the essentials of the faith. We can't simply demand that Rome becomes Orthodox if by that we mean that she ceases to be Roman, only if by Orthodox we mean right believing.

    Here's the link:
    http://htaoc.com/content/hopko_reunion.pdf

    I offer this up for discussion to those who are interested. What might the sticking points be? Do any of the RCs here see certain, or even all, of the points as being impossible? Might such a Papacy perhaps bring about reconcilliation with other churches (I'm thinking here particularly of High Church Anglicans and Oriental Orthodox, though excluding nobody)?

    I've deliberately placed this in this section because I have no desire to debate this. Such debates always get acrimonious and I am very conscious of the fact that mine is the lone eastern voice on this forum. I am interested in people's reactions to the document and in discussing the requirements voiced by Fr. Thomas in a kind and rational manner.

    I would end by asking that the staff please keep an eye on this thread and close it if it turns into a debate.

    James
     
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  2. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Oldest Heretic

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    I can only answer from an Anglican point of view.
    The acceptance of the Pope as the Principal prince of the church has already been discussed and could be accepted.
    This would be especially so if he was elected from leaders throughout the rejoined churches.

    For us the principal problem would be the Place of women priests and Bishops within the church and their equality throughout the church. There could be no going back to a male only priesthood for us.
    Nor could we accept the Idea no married priests.
    As to the rest of the Dogma, we would find that of the EO easier to swallow, than that of Rome.

    All that being said...
    there is a real and distinct advantage in there being more than one "Church" in the world.
    Christ seems to come to different peoples in different ways and the style and differences do much to spread the message of the "whole Church".

    What I would see as more important is some closing of the Gaps in our beliefs to a point where we could share in a common Eucharist.

    This I think, would have a more profound effect on Christianity unity than in sharing a Pope.
     
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  3. athanasius

    athanasius Well-Known Member

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    We would have to work out the problems of the filioque clause(which in my mind wouldn't be too hard) and Papal Authority and perhaps a few clarifications of the Dogmas of the Virgin. I believe this is possible with the help of the Holy Spirit, though old prejudices die hard and it may take another 1000 years. However, there have been periods in history when we have almost reconciled(florence comes to mind).
     
  4. James the Persian

    James the Persian Dreptcredincios Crestin

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    Florence is a very poor example. There were several occasions between 1054 and the 4th Crusade where things looked like we might possibly reconcile, but Florence, no matter how it was perceived by Rome was never anything more than an attempt by certain politicians, both inside and outside the Church, to sell out their faith for military aid against the Turks. The most important person at the Robber Council at Florence was St. Mark of Ephesus, for he was well known, even to the westerners, to represent the vast majority of the Church, especially the laiety and monastics. That is why the Pope remarked that it was 'all for nothing' on seeing that his signature was not there.

    There was never any prospect of reconcilliation at Florence. The Roman representatives had hoped to dominate the Orthodox (all compromise was expected on the Orthodox side only) by exploiting a moment of political weakness. Luckily St. Mark was unwilling to compromise his faith in that way and the people chose to break communion with those who signed the union until they repented. If Florence seems to you a good example of a time when we are indeed right to be wary of talk of reconcilliation coming from Rome.

    James
     
  5. Smoke

    Smoke Done here.

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    I don't think reconciliation is possible without one side or the other giving up some fundamental quality. The Catholic view of the papacy, for instance, is simply incompatible with Orthodoxy, and the Catholics have painted themselves into a dogmatic corner on the subject. One side or the other would pretty much have to capitulate.

    Even if the litany of dogmatic snags could be worked out, though, there's a greater problem. Catholic theology and spirituality are completely incompatible with Orthodox theology and spirituality. It's not just a matter of differing dogmas that must be reconciled; there are fundamental differences of outlook and perspective, fundamentally different approaches to theology and spirituality. Although it surprises Protestants to hear it, Catholicism has more in common with almost any Protestant Church than with the Orthodox Church. It would be easier for Rome to reconcile with the Primitive Baptists than with the Orthodox.

    That's why the ecumenical movement is so controversial in Orthodoxy, and why Orthodox who hope for reconciliation with Rome are so often vilified. There is a feeling that reconciliation would necessarily rob the Orthodox of all the things that are important about their faith. Orthodox sense that they are being asked to abandon their faith for something quite alien to it. I think they're right.
     
  6. Buttercup

    Buttercup Veteran Member

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    I had no idea, Bill. In fact, I thought it was the other way around, that Protestants had more in common with the Orthodox Church.

    You have just settled what I'm going to read about this week, thanks.
     
  7. James the Persian

    James the Persian Dreptcredincios Crestin

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    I thought that to be the case
    This is not actually something we could agree with because, in effect, that would make the Pope the bishop of bishops in that his Synod would be the entire Church rather than just the Holy Synod of Rome. The point for us is that the Pope must not be over the other bishops at all, but rather more like their representative. Your suggestion would be to make the idea of a Universal Pontiff a little more democratic. For us that idea is unacceptable even if he were elected by the entire body of the Church - a bishop is a bishop.
    Which rather kills the idea. There is no way we, the OOs or Rome is ever likely to have a female priesthood. Deconesses, on the other hand, are a possibility.
    Well Fr. Thomas adressed that in the document. We Orthodox have married priests (in fact married priests are preferred for normal parishes) and there's absolutely no reason why this should be forbidden, but I thoughht you knew this? We do have the discipline of having celibate bishops but I could foresee no reason why married bishops couldn't also be allowed if a reconcilliation were to occur - it's just a practical discipline, not dogma.
    Probably because there's an awful lot less of it and most of it you already accept. We haven't ahd the tendency Rome has had over the last millennium to dogmatise more more, often rather inconsequential, aspects of the faith (I think here mainly of the Marian dogmas of Rome).
    What advantage? I honestly see no advantage at all over one Church made up of many autocephalous local churches. There should be one Church and all should agree on the Essentials. That would be the ideal. That doesn't mean that all the local churches should be identical however - ours certainly aren't.
    This is not something that would necessarily have to be abandoned if the Church was united. Unity in diversity - the essence of Trinitarian ecclesiology.

    In order to do that we would have to have closed them so far that we are reconciled. For all three of our communions to be able to share the Eucharist is to be in communion with the Church - they are one and the same so if we could share the Eucharist we would already be united. In other words, the relationship between us would be more like that between my church and the Russian one than between us and the OOs (with whom I genuinely believe we have no real theological disagreement and yet we remain out of communion).

    This would be unity. The Pope is a side issue. Sorting out his position in any reconciled church, though, is a very important side issue because Rome has made the Papacy vital to their ecclesiology. None of the rest of us might agree with this (none of us do), but it has, obviously, got to be taken into account in any talk of reconcilliation.

    James
     
  8. James the Persian

    James the Persian Dreptcredincios Crestin

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    I agree. I am by no means ecumenist. I'm not about to go into Schism over it but I was practically grinning from ear to ear when reading recent comments from His Holiness Patriarch Teoctist, because my church up to now has been rather more eci=umenically minded than some. Did you read Fr. Thomas' points, though? I think they really do constitute the bare minimum and I think that most RCs would have a very hard time swallowing them. May would think that they were a complete capitulation to us and, in a way, they'd be right because it would require a return to the faith and ecclesiology from the days when we were one, and which we have preserved.
    I feel that this is a little exaggerated. It is true that in some respects Protestants and RCs are two sides of the same coin, both equally alien to us, but not all of these are down to post-Schism innovation. Some existed even when we were one and we could learn to live with differences on non-essentials again, so long as they could do the same. We, of course, have the concept of the theologoumenon and the unwillingness to over-dogmatise the faith for precisely such reasons.

    I think they're right too, if all compromise must be on the Orthodox side. We cannot compromise our faith for unity and that is all too often what Rome demands of us (see Athanasius' suggestion that we were almost reconciled at Florence!) Such would be false union and selling out the faith and must be avoided at all costs. However, some Orthodox harbour ridiculous notions of what oit means to be Orthodox, what it is that is essential. Witness those who hate the western rite simply becauesit is western. It is true that Rome must become Orthodox for reconcilliation to occur, but Orthodox should not mean Greek or Russian, should not require Byzantine chant, should not mean the installation of iconostases, should not mean the universal dominance of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. Too many Orthodox identify such inconsequential local and cultural expressions of the faith with the faith itself, and they must be willing to compromise on this, too. I would never swap the western rite for the eastern myself because it is not where I feel comfortable, but nor will I condem it as un-Orthodox. Some people simply go too far.

    James
     
  9. Quiddity

    Quiddity UndertheInfluenceofGiants

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    Much of what I read in those 9 pages can be worked out, I believe. But then again I’m probably more of an ecumenist than most RC’s and EO’s. It was a good read, but of course I found myself taking deep breaths at statements like:

    The revolutionary advances in technology in the last century that coincided with such traumatic events as the world wars, the rise and fall of communism, the Jewish holocaust, the most sever and widespread persecution of Christianity, especially Protestantism, under the various secularizing forces of Western society, strongly contributed to the Pope of Rome’s position as the leader of Christianity in the modern, and now post-modern, world.

    But as this thread, I’m sure, was intended to be in the spirit of ecumenism, I will simply note my opinion about what I believe to be a major stumbling block between our respective Churches. This is in addition to what Fr. Thomas Hopko has already noted. If we are to talk about any unity, it’s important that we lay down everything in the table with clarity and charity.

    The key is [I think], in practice, is a very laxed and lightweight papal jurisdiction. If we can agree in principle and allow the liturgical and customary diversity that in fact exists, with Patriarchs running the show in their own domain, with only minimal papal input, then we could accomplish some sort of reunion (contrary to some EO statements, this is how the relationship is between the 23 different rites and provinces that are in union with Rome). But I see a great deal of anti-Western prejudice (and there is anti-Eastern prejudice too, but I honestly don’t see this as much). Certain groups such as our own Traditionalists, Ultramontanist view of the Papacy (which Vatican I rejected),and the ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) and groups like that will may never go along, but they can't even agree with their own Orthodox brethren (sometimes denying valid sacraments even to them), so we can't let that stop us. Let them go their own way.

    I’m not sure, but I think the Orthodox perspective on this is mixed, or so I perceive it. On the one hand, there are many Orthodox who have a knee-jerk response about this. On the other, I think history is more nuanced and mixed than either side in the often polemical discussion will readily admit. There are instances of the Pope sending letters, for example, to far away dioceses about things (eastern provinces to be precise), such as the infamous incident involving the disputed Easter celebrations in Asia Minor. The key question, it seems to me, is in what capacity the Pope was doing these things ... and this is where things get fuzzy between us. We see these incidents as a prototype for what eventually developed into universal jurisdiction, once communication methods and the like were sufficiently advanced so as to permit this to be a reality. The Orthodox Church sees these instances as brotherly admonitions (to which Hopko touches on), similar in nature to those issued by a number of other patriarchs from time to time to various other churches on various matters during the early church period. Of course, one would need to examine the tone and language used between the bishops of Rome and those outside of it.

    Unfortunately some of the frustrations of some Protestants (both low and high churches) in the process of converting, is that the historical perspective, while important, is also somewhat limiting because each side in the debate (RC and EO) can look to various incidents, quotes, patristic passages and simply get nowhere in convincing the other side of the merits of its argument. Much of the reason for that is a different perspective on history ... RC's, on their part, tend to believe in the development of things, and so they look to the first millennium for seeds of what later developed, recognizing that the full-blown universal jurisdiction, as a canonical and/or dogmatic principle, was not fully understood by all at the time……Eastern Orthodox on the other hand tend to say that things now should not be any different than they were during the first millennium, and so they look to history for *models* of how things should run today. This is of course a major stumbling block.

    This reminds me of St. Peter himself in Acts 1:20, the Church takes texts of Scripture (or historical documents) which may be obscure to many in the debate and clarifies them definitively and not necessarily waiting for everyone to be able to understand all of the issues at hand. “Fides quaerens intellectum” is the cry of the Church. EO's and Protestantism (as I see it) tend to go about it in the reverse. They look for the perspicuity of text, whether scriptural or historical and let it define the Church. While that is good (so far as it can take us), Christianity is/was a religion of the “people of God” and not a religion of a book or historical text. This made the world of difference to me in being able to see history within the context of development.

    I wish I could sit here and tell everyone that there is an easy solution to all this, but even those that I think can be compromised, will not go easy. There is more I wanted to address but as I have lent my fingers and mind run amok, I will leave at this for now.

    Peace be with you,
    ~Victor

    PS – I hope this is what you were looking for James.
     
  10. Ðanisty

    Ðanisty Well-Known Member

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    I don't know if I've interpreted this right or not, but it seems that a lot of the dispute is generated by a different approach to the evolution of the church. Please correct me if I've gotten this all wrong. It looks like the RC church looks at the evolution of the church as a natural progression...something that was laid in foundation in the beginning and meant to become what it is. The EO, on the other hand, look to the beginning and see that as the perfect state of the church and believe the modern church should strive to maintain it. I can see the possibility of a lot problems arising from that.

    This is just an observation from someone who married into an RC family, but I think there is some merit to this (if I'm understanding it correctly).
     
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  11. James the Persian

    James the Persian Dreptcredincios Crestin

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    Yes, indeed. Thank you.

    No. This is often how it's portrayed by RCs and so I know what you mean but it is not something I recognise at all. I would say that the issue is not one of development v. no development (any Orthodox Christian who tells you there's been no development is either ignorant or dissembling) but one of legitimate v. illegitimate development. For us, any development must be holistic and each and every step must be firmly grounded in the faith delivered once to the Apostles. That which is legitimate might expound upon or clarify that faith but cannot alter it or introduce innovation - that's why we don't agree with Rome. We see innovations of ecclesiology and theology all over the place, particularly since the Schism because since then there have simply been no brakes on Rome's rather top down approach to the faith as the Pope of Rome is sole Patriarch there. Our approach, on the other hand, is decidedly bottom up, with the whole Church being involved. This is why we change so slowly and, to go back to Athanasius' example, why we find it so laughable when RCs assert that we were almost reconciled at Florence. Rome appears to see that all but one of the bishops at Florence signed as 'almost all the Church', whereas we see one bishop who refused and almost all the lower clergy, the laiety and the monastics following him as being far more significant than any number of bishops.

    RCs and others who are unfamiliar with Orthodoxy usually do, but it's only an observation that makes sense by taking an a priori western approach to the subject. I, personally, would say that one of the greatest and most significant differences between Christian east and west (I say this because OO ecclesiology is, if anything, slightly less centralised than ours even) is that Rome went decidedly heirarchical and stratified - and this affects their view of history and even theology to a degree - whereas the east has always been more holistic seeing the Church as a unity in diversity. Hence the fact that the RCs see their point of unity in the Papacy (hence you get Uniates who call themselves 'Orthodox in communion with Rome' specifically because they believe themselves to share a common faith with us rather than the Latins despite bending the knee to the Pope) whereas we see ours in a common faith. I can't help but notice that the major issues that caused the Schism revolve precisely around this difference - the Papal claims were decidedly an attempt to impose internal Roman ecclesiology on the whole Church and the fact that Rome had altered the Creed which served as the summation of the shared faith is also rather significant. I am not optimistic that we will reconcile but were Rome to drop the Papal claims and return to the Nicene Creed I would be. Those two innovations underpin everything that followed it seems to me and, where those underpinnings to disappear, I dare say that we could reconcile, though it might still take a very long time to iron things out. So long as they remain, though, the Schism is simply not healable.

    James
     
  12. Quiddity

    Quiddity UndertheInfluenceofGiants

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    As much as I hate to admit, you are probably right about that James. But as I said, I’ve had a tendency of holding on to this irrational hope in me.

    If I may, I would like to address a couple things you noted [not as a counter] as a means to clarify things between us.

    It is true that we sometimes have a tendency of having a top down approach (and it's not always a bad thing), but it is equally (I’d say even more so) as true that we have a bottom up approach. Just one example (of literally hundreds that can be noted), you’d search in vain to find the Pope acting on his own with regard to doctrinal issues. This is precisely why we have waited so long to declare Marian doctrines such as the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption as ex cathedra dogma. In both instances, the popes involved received overwhelming solicitation from bishops, priests, and laymen, urging them to make the declarations. It was anything but a solely "top-down" act of arbitrary power. You have groups like the College of Cardinals, Synod of Bishops, and many more that bring the bottom to the top all the time. This is how we do things in our Church and it’s not something new and innovative.

    It’s often said that Rome has been infected with hubris and although there is some truth in this, one only need to look at the politics within the Church to see just where the hubris existed. A read into the first Council and the matters that surrounded it gives you a glimpse of just how troublesome it got with Patriarchs and clergy in North Africa, Jerusalem, Constantinople, etc. Priests ordaining other priest, Bishops holding their own local councils, and a number of other abuses. I'd actually argue that Hubris was mostly infecting the East. Just go back and read where most all the heretical teachings (to which both RC's and EO's now reject) were coming from. This isn't to say the West didn't, but it was nothing compared to what went on in the East. So it’s a false claim to say Rome alone sought power and was infected with hubris. This is the nature of politics and people in general, not just Rome. And one can see this in history.

    On another note, it is true that EO’s recognize development (St. Gregory Palamas developed the notion of the energies of God in the 14th century) but they usually only do so under their in own terms. Of course we do the same, but once again, we look at history much differently then them. We look for “seeds” in history and will take “models” if it’s there. EO’s (as I understand) will look for “models” and reject “seeds”. This is the Sola Scriptura mentality that I lightly touched on in my first post.
     
  13. Ðanisty

    Ðanisty Well-Known Member

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    I would just like to give my non-Catholic opinion here. I don't see how what you're describing could be considered a compromise. You've basically said that the RC church would have to change everything that makes them different from the EO church, in which case they may as well just dissolve their church and convert. Now, that's neither good nor bad. It really all just depends on if a compromise is really sought in the first place and it seems to me like that isn't the case. If a compromise isn't needed and the two churches are happy enough to be apart, I don't see anything wrong with your position. It simply makes more sense to me though, for the two churches to recognize that reconciliation is not possible because both sides are asking for more than the other side is willing to give. :shrug:
     
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