Papist Orthodoxy

October 28, 2009

SSPX Meetings with the Vatican

Filed under: Ecumenism — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 8:00 pm

From the Holy See Press Office.

On Monday 26 October 2009 in the Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio, headquarters of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, the study commission made up of experts from “Ecclesia Dei” and from the Society of St. Pius X held its first meeting, with the aim of examining the doctrinal differences still outstanding between the Society and the Apostolic See.

In a cordial, respectful and constructive climate, the main doctrinal questions were identified. These will be studied in the course of discussions to be held over coming months, probably twice a month. In particular, the questions due to be examined concern the concept of Tradition, the Missal of Paul VI, the interpretation of Vatican Council II in continuity with Catholic doctrinal Tradition, the themes of the unity of the Church and the Catholic principles of ecumenism, the relationship between Christianity and non-Christian religions, and religious freedom. The meeting also served to specify the method and organisation of the work.

[01551-02.01] [Original text: Italian, traduzione a cura della Sala Stampa]

[B0663-XX.01]

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October 22, 2009

Bulgarian Orthodox Leader Affirms Desire for Unity

Filed under: Ecumenism — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 7:41 pm

Croatian Politician Invites Pope to Visit

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A Bulgarian Orthodox prelate told Benedict XVI of his desire for unity, and his commitment to accelerate communion with the Catholic Church.

At the end of Wednesday’s general audience, Bishop Tichon, head of the diocese for Central and Western Europe of the Patriarchate of Bulgaria, stated to the Pope, “We must find unity as soon as possible and finally celebrate together,” L’Osservatore Romano reported.

“People don’t understand our divisions and our discussions,” the bishop stated. He affirmed that he will “not spare any efforts” to work for the quick restoration of “communion between Catholics and Orthodox.”

Bishop Tichon said that “the theological dialogue that is going forward in these days in Cyprus is certainly important, but we should not be afraid to say that we must find as soon as possible the way to celebrate together.”

“A Catholic will not become an Orthodox and vice versa, but we must approach the altar together,” he added.

The prelate told the Pontiff that “this aspiration is a feeling that arose from the works of the assembly” of his diocese, held in Rome, in which all the priests and two delegates from every Bulgarian Orthodox parish took part.

“We have come to the Pope to express our desire for unity and also because he is the Bishop of Rome, the city that hosted our assembly,” he stated.

Initiatives

After the bishop, Luka Bebic, speaker of the Croatian Parliament, addressed the Holy Father, inviting the Pontiff to visit his homeland and thanking him “for the support the Holy See has given our people since independence, during the war back then and now in the process that will lead Croatia to enter the European Union.”

Benedict XVI next greeted members of the Association Rondine Cittadella della Pace [Citadel of Peace], which promotes dialogue and peace by bringing together students from conflict areas to live and study in community.

They shared with the Pope a concrete proposal titled “14 Points for Peace in the Caucasus” that was developed at an international congress the association organized in May.

The proposal was also distributed to the ambassadors of the Caucasus countries and to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Young people of all the ethnic and religious groups of the Caucasus were also present at the audience.

Members of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Cardinal Sancha, whose founder, Cardinal Ciriaco María Sancha y Hervas, was beatified Sunday in Toledo, Spain, also greeted the Pontiff. Headed by their superior, Sister Maria del Carmen Dominguez, the religious expressed to the Holy Father their commitment to be faithful to their original charism “of service to the poor, orphans and the elderly.”

Many Churches of the (former) Anglican Communion to Reunite With Rome

Filed under: Ecumenism, Petrine Primacy — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 12:18 am

Exciting news regarding the relations between many churches of the former Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church.

The Vatican’s Unexpected Announcement

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 20, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A text message sent Monday evening ensured that Vatican correspondents wouldn’t miss today’s announcement that Benedict XVI is facilitating the process for groups of Anglicans to join the Catholic Church.

[…]

Given the Vatican’s announcement, several agencies and newspapers began to publish brief articles, which in general coincided in interpreting this message as the announcement of the entry of numerous Anglicans into the Catholic Church, something that had been expected for more than a year.

However, these sources had no more details on Benedict XVI’s imminent apostolic constitution with which he creates personal ordinariates to receive former Anglican faithful.

Hours after the press conference, images of the meeting were published on the Vatican’s YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/vatican).

Anglican Archbishop: Our Prayers Have Been Answered

Welcomes Pope’s Offer of Personal Ordinariates

BLACKWOOD, South Australia, OCT. 20, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The prayers of Anglicans wishing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church have been more than answered today, according to the primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

Archbishop John Hepworth said this today in a statement that responded to the Vatican announcement that Benedict XVI would allow Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the Anglican spiritual and liturgical tradition.

This policy has been established in a forthcoming apostolic constitution, and it responds to requests from Anglicans who have expressed wishes to become Catholic, particularly as the Anglican Tradition continues to take steps toward opening their priesthood and episcopate to women and active homosexuals, and blessing same-sex unions.

Between 20 and 30 Anglican bishops have made such a request.

The constitution was announced at a press conference at the Vatican today, offered by Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Hepworth, who also heads the Diocese of Australia in the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia, said that the Traditional Anglican Communion is “profoundly moved by the generosity of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.”

Traditional Anglican Communion on Personal Ordinariates

“It More Than Matches Our Prayers”

BLACKWOOD, South Australia, OCT. 20, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the statement published by Archbishop John Hepworth, the primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, in response to the Vatican announcement today of a provision that has been established by Benedict XVI that would allow Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the Anglican spiritual and liturgical tradition.

* * *

I have spent this evening speaking to bishops, priests and lay people of the Traditional Anglican Communion in England, Africa, Australia, India, Canada, the United States and South America.

We are profoundly moved by the generosity of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. He offers in this Apostolic Constitution the means for “former Anglicans to enter into the fullness of communion with the Catholic Church.” He hopes that we can “find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to us and consistent with the Catholic faith.” He then warmly states “we are happy that these men and women bring with them their particular contributions to our common life of faith.”

May I firstly state that this is an act of great goodness on the part of the Holy Father. He has dedicated his pontificate to the cause of unity. It more than matches the dreams we dared to include in our petition of two years ago. It more than matches our prayers. In those two years, we have become very conscious of the prayers of our friends in the Catholic Church. Perhaps their prayers dared to ask even more than ours.

While we await the full text of the Apostolic Constitution, we are also moved by the pastoral nature of the Notes issued today by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. My fellow bishops have indeed signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church and made a statement about the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, reflecting the words of Pope John Paul II in his letter “Ut Unum Sint”.

Other Anglican groups have indicated to the Holy See a similar desire and a similar acceptance of Catholic faith. As Cardinal Levada has indicated, this response to Anglican petitions is to be of a global character. It will now be for these groups to forge a close cooperation, even where they transcend the existing boundaries of the Anglican Communion.

Fortunately, the Statement issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury reflects the understanding that we have gained from him that he does not stand in our way, and understands the decisions that we have reached. Both his reaction and our petition are fruits of a century of prayer for Christian unity, a cause that many times must have seemed forlorn. We now express our gratitude to Archbishop Williams, and have regularly assured him of our prayers. The See of Augustine remains a focus of our pilgrim way, as it was in ages of faith in the past.

I have made a commitment to the Traditional Anglican Communion that the response of the Holy See will be taken to each of our National Synods. They have already endorsed our pathway. Now the Holy See challenges us to seek in the specific structures that are now available the “full, visible unity, especially Eucharistic communion,” for which we have long prayed and about which we have long dreamed. That process will begin at once.

In the Anglican Office of Morning Prayer, the great Hymn of Thanksgiving, the Te Deum, is part of the daily Order. It is with heartfelt thanks to Almighty God, the Lord and Source of all peace and unity, that the hymn is on our lips today. This is a moment of grace, perhaps even a moment of history, not because the past is undone, but because the past is transformed.

Other Commentaries

The End of the Anglican Communion

Pope Benedict to Anglicans: Come Home to Rome

October 17, 2009

A Catholic View of Orthodoxy by Fr. Aidan Nichols, O.P.

originally from: New Blackfriars, Vol 77, No. 905, June 1996

this version from Christendom-Awake.org.

In this article I attempt an overview in four parts. First, I shall discuss why Catholics should not only show some ecumenical concern for Orthodoxy but also treat the Orthodox as their privileged or primary ecumenical partner.

Secondly, I shall ask why the schism between the Catholic and Orthodox churches occurred, focussing as it finally did on four historic ‘dividing issues’.

Thirdly, I shall evaluate the present state of Catholic-Orthodox relations, with particular reference to the problem of the ‘Uniate’ or Eastern Catholic churches.

Fourthly and finally, having been highly sympathetic and complimentary to the Orthodox throughout, I shall end by saying what, in my judgment, is wrong with the Orthodox Church and why it needs Catholicism for (humanly speaking) its own salvation.

Part 1

First, then, why should Catholics take the Orthodox as not only an ecumenical partner but the ecumenical partner par excellence? There are three kinds of reasons: historical, theological and practical – of which in most discussion only the historical and theological are mentioned since the third sort ? what I term the ‘practical’ takes us into areas of potential controversy among Western Catholics themselves.

The historical reasons for giving preference to Orthodoxy over all other separated communions turn on the fact that the schism between the Roman church and the ancient Chalcedonian churches of the East is the most tragic and burdensome of the splits in historic Christendom if we take up a universal rather than merely regional, perspective.

Though segments of the Church of the Fathers were lost to the Great Church through the departure from Catholic unity of the Assyrian (Nestorian) and Oriental Orthodox (Monophysite) churches after the Councils of Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451) respectively, Christians representing the two principal cultures of the Mediterranean basin where the Gospel had its greatest flowering – the Greek and the Latin – lived in peace and unity with each other, despite occasional stirrings and some local difficulties right up until the end of the patristic epoch.

That epoch came to its climax with the Seventh Ecumenical Council, Nicaea II, in 787, the last Council Catholics and Orthodox have in common, and the Council which, in its teaching on. the icon, and notably on the icon of Christ, brought to a triumphant close the series of conciliar clarifications of the Christological faith of the Church which had opened with Nicaea I in 325.

The iconography, liturgical life, Creeds and dogmatic believing of the ancient Church come down to us in forms at once Eastern and Western; and it was this rich unity of patristic culture, expressing as it did the faith of the apostolic community, which was shattered by the schism between Catholics and Orthodox, never (so far) to be repaired.

And let me say at this point that Church history provides exceedingly few examples of historic schisms overcome, so if history is to be our teacher we have no grounds for confidence or optimism that this most catastrophic of all schisms will be undone. ‘Catastrophic’ because, historically, as the present pope has pointed out, taking up a metaphor suggested by a French ecclesiologist, the late Cardinal Yves Congar: each Church, West and East, henceforth could only breathe with one lung.

No Church could now lay claim to the total cultural patrimony of both Eastern and Western Chalcedonianism – that is, the christologically and therefore triadologically and soteriologically correct understanding of the Gospel. The result of the consequent rivalry and conflict was the creation of an invisible line down the middle of Europe. And what the historic consequences of that were we know well enough from the situation of the former Yugoslavia today.

After the historical, the theological. The second reason for giving priority to ecumenical relations with the Orthodox is theological. If the main point of ecumenism, or work for the restoration of the Church’s full unity, were simply to redress historic wrongs and defuse historically generated causes of conflict, then we might suppose that we should be equally – or perhaps even more – interested in addressing the CatholicProtestant divide.

After all, there have been no actual wars of religion – simply as such – between Catholics and Orthodox, unlike those between Catholics and Protestants in sixteenth century France or the seventeenth century Holy Roman Empire. But theologically there cannot be any doubt that the Catholic Church must accord greater importance to dialogue with the Orthodox than to conversations with any Protestant body.

For the Orthodox churches are churches in the apostolic succession; they are bearers of the apostolic Tradition, witnesses to apostolic faith, worship and order – even though they are also, and at the same time, unhappily sundered from the prima sedes, the first see.

Their Fathers and other ecclesiastical writers, their liturgical texts and practices, their iconographic tradition, these remain loci theologici – authoritative sources – to which the Catholic theologian can and must turn in his or her intellectual construal of Catholic Christianity. And that cannot possibly be said of the monuments of Anglican, Lutheran, Reformed or any other kind of Protestantism.

To put the same point in another way: the separated Western communities have Christian traditions – in the plural, with a small ‘t’ – which may well be worthy of the Catholic theologian’s interest and respect. But only the Orthodox are, along with the Catholic Church, bearers of Holy Tradition – in the singular, with a capital ‘T’, that is, of the Gospel in its plenary organic transmission through the entirety of the life – credal, doxological, ethical – of Christ’s Church.

There is for Catholics, therefore, a theological imperative to restore unity with the Orthodox which is lacking in our attitude to Protestantism – though I should not be misinterpreted as saying that there is no theological basis for the impulse to Catholic-Protestant rapprochement for we have it in the prayer of our Lord himself at the Great Supper, ‘that they all may be one’.

I am emphasising the greater priority we should give to relations with the Orthodox because I do not believe the optimistic statement of many professional ecumenists to the effect that all bilateral dialogues – all negotiations with individual separated communions – feed into each other in a positive and unproblematic way.

It would be nice to think that a step towards one separated group of Christians never meant a step away from another one, but such a pious claim does not become more credible with the frequency of its repeating. The issue of the ordination of women, to take but one particularly clear example, is evidently a topic where to move closer to world Protestantism is to move further from global Orthodoxy – and vice versa.

This brings me to my third reason for advocating ecumenical rapport with Orthodoxy: its practical advantages. At the present time, the Catholic Church, in many parts of the world, is undergoing one of the most serious crises in its history, a crisis resulting from a disorienting encounter with secular culture and compounded by a failure of Christian discernment on the part of many people over the last quarter century – from the highest office – holders to the ordinary faithful.

This crisis touches many aspects of Church life but notably theology and catechesis, liturgy and spirituality, Religious life and Christian ethics at large. Orthodoxy is well placed to stabilise Catholicism in most if not all of these areas.

Were we to ask in a simply empirical or phenomenological frame of mind just what the Orthodox Church is like, we could describe it as a dogmatic Church, a liturgical Church, a contemplative Church, and a monastic Church – and in all these respects it furnishes a helpful counter-balance to certain features of much western Catholicism today.

Firstly, then, Orthodoxy is a dogmatic Church. It lives from out of the fulness of the truth impressed by the Spirit on the minds of the apostles at the first Pentecost, a fulness which transformed their awareness and made possible that specifically Christian kind of thinking we call dogmatic thought.

The Holy Trinity, the God-man, the Mother of God and the saints, the Church as the mystery of the Kingdom expressed in a common life on earth, the sacraments as means to humanity’s deification – our participation in the uncreated life of God himself: these are the truths among which the Orthodox live, move and have their being.

Orthodox theology in all its forms is a call to the renewal of our minds in Christ, something which finds its measure not in pure reason or secular culture but in the apostolic preaching attested to by the holy Fathers, in accord with the principal dogmata of faith as summed up in the Ecumenical Councils of the Church.[1]

Secondly, Orthodoxy is a liturgical Church. It is a Church for which the Liturgy provides a total ambience expressed in poetry, music and iconography, text and gesture, and where the touchstone of the liturgical life is not the capacity of liturgy to express contemporary concerns (legitimate though these may be in their own context), but, rather, the ability of the Liturgy to act as a vehicle of the Kingdom, our anticipated entry, even here and now, into the divine life.

Thirdly, Orthodoxy is a contemplative Church. Though certainly not ignoring the calls of missionary activity and practical charity, essential to the Gospel and the Gospel community as these are, the Orthodox lay their primary emphasis on the life of prayer as the absolutely necessary condition of all Christianity worth the name.

In the tradition of the desert fathers, and of such great theologian-mystics as the Cappadocian fathers, St Maximus and St Gregory Palamas, encapsulated as these contributions are in that anthology of Eastern Christian spirituality the Philokalia, Orthodoxy gives testimony to the primacy of what the Saviour himself called the first and greatest commandment, to love the Lord your God with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength, for it is in the light of this commandment with its appeal for a God-centred process of personal conversion and sanctification – that all our efforts to live out its companion commandment (to love our neighbour as ourself) must be guided.

And fourthly, Orthodoxy is a monastic Church, a Church with a monastic heart where the monasteries provide the spiritual fathers of the bishops, the counsellors of the laity and the example of a Christian maximalism. A Church without a flourishing monasticism, without the lived ‘martyrdom’ of an asceticism inspired by the Paschal Mystery of the Lord’s Cross and Resurrection, could hardly be a Church according to the mind of the Christ of the Gospels, for monasticism, of all Christian life ways, is the one which most clearly and publicly leaves all things behind for the sake of the Kingdom.

Practically speaking, then, the re-entry into Catholic unity of this dogmatic, liturgical, contemplative and monastic Church could only have the effect of steadying and strengthening those aspects of Western Catholicism which today are most under threat by the corrosives of secularism and theological liberalism.

1. Cf. A. Nichols, O. P., Light from the East. Authors and Themes in Orthodox Theology (London 1995).

Read the rest of the article HERE.

October 5, 2009

East-West Union: Speculations a Bit Premature Says Metropolitan of Pergamon

Filed under: Doctrine, Ecumenism — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 5:49 pm

From the blog Communio.StBlogs.org.

Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon sent a letter to the Archbishop of Greece and to all Metropolitans of the Church of Greece reflecting on their acerbic and uninformed opinion regarding theological dialogue with the See of Rome. Rigid adherence to one’s opinion is sinful. Metropolitan John is a consequential theologian and therefore I think his insight matters. Clearly one gets the impression he distrusts imprudent public speculation as to when and how a “reunion of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches” is to take place. A too hopeful stance is unrealistic and does not account for the continued dogmatic, ecclesiological differences yet to be resolved. One wonders if the Catholic theologians and media people actually do their homework or whether clichés is all they know. There is reason to believe we want to see partial reality.

Your Eminence,

Given that much turmoil has been unduly created by certain circles, on the subject of the official theological Dialogue between Orthodox and Roman Catholics, and that views have also been expressed, which often range between inaccuracy and open falsehood and slander, I am hereby addressing Your affection in order to clarify the following:

1. The aforementioned theological Dialogue does not constitute a concern of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and much less, that of a specific person, but is something that is taking place upon the decision of all the autocephalous and autonomous Orthodox Churches without exception. Specifically with regard to the present period of the Dialogue, during which the undersigned has the co-chairmanship from the Orthodox side, the agreement of all the Orthodox Churches for the continuation of the Dialogue has been recorded in Memoranda signed by the venerable Primates of the Orthodox Churches, which are hereto attached in photocopy.  As Your Eminence will see when reading these Memoranda, even the most holy Church of Greece – and in fact with a Synodical decision – has admitted that “despite the existing difficulties, which spring from the provocative activities of Unia to the detriment of the flock of the Orthodox Church, the said Theological Dialogue must continue.”  Consequently, those opposed to the said theological Dialogue are doubting and judging pan-Orthodox decisions, which have been reached synodically. By claiming solely as their own the genuine conscience of Orthodoxy, these people are in essence doubting the Orthodoxy not only of certain persons – as they misguidedly insist – but of the very Primates and sacred Synods of all the most holy Orthodox Churches.

2. The same things apply in the case of the said Dialogue.  We are informed that a certain professor in his letter to the Reverend Hierarchs is censuring the topic of primacy as a chosen topic for the theological Dialogue, and believes that the Dialogue should be concerning itself with other matters.  But the said professor is either ignorant of, or indifferent to, the fact that – again – the topic of the Dialogue was decided on at a pan-orthodox level. The attached Memoranda, signed by all the Primates of the Orthodox Churches, testify to and verify this.  The most holy Church of Greece thus accepts that “this discussion (regarding Unia) can, for the sake of facilitating the course of the Dialogue, be conducted within the framework of ecclesiology through the prism of the primacy”.  This is precisely what we normally intend to do, during the forthcoming discussion of the subject “The Primacy during the 2nd Millennium”, which is also when Unia first appeared. The remaining topics that the said professor referred to will by no means be overlooked by the Dialogue. However, during the present phase, as decided at an inter-orthodox level from the beginning of the Dialogue, the focal point of the discussion is Ecclesiology. It is duly respected and legitimate, for the said professor – or anyone else – to have a different point of view, but it is inadmissible to be crying out that Orthodoxy is in danger because the Primates who are shepherding Her do not share his opinion.  Where are we heading as a Church, my Reverend holy brother?

3. It is being propagated very falsely and conspiringly that the signing of the union of the Churches is imminent! A professor emeritus of Theology, who is well known for his ill-will towards my person, had visited a Hierarch of the Church of Greece and had told him that he knew with certainty (!) that the union had already been signed (in Ravenna!) and that the relative announcement was a matter of time!!!  Clergy and laity have approached me and asked me if it is true that the union is to be signed in Cyprus, in October!  Obviously, a feeling of unrest is being attempted among the people of God through this behaviour, with unpredictable consequences for the unity of the Church.  However, those who are disseminating these things are fully aware (as long as they have not been blinded by empathy, fanaticism or a mania for self-projection), firstly, that the ongoing theological Dialogue has yet to span an extremely long course, because the theological differences that have accumulated during the one thousand years of division are many; and secondly, that the Committee for the Dialogue is entirely unqualified for the “signing” of a union, given that this right belongs to the Synods of the Churches. Therefore, why all the misinformation? Can’t the disseminators of these false “updates” think of what the consequences will be for the unity of the Church?  «He who agitates (God’s people) shall bear the blame, whoever he may be» (Galatians 5:10).

Your Eminence,

The responsibility of all of us, and mostly of the bishops who have been appointed by God to cater to the safeguarding of the canonical unity of their flock, is an immense one.

What is being jeopardized is ecclesiological: What is the authority and the prestige of Conciliar decisions? Do we conform to the Conciliar decisions as we are already doing – and being attacked for doing so – or do we conform to the “zealots” of Orthodoxy?  Can there be an Orthodoxy and Dogmas without any Conciliar rulings?

We ask you to please place yourself on the matter, before we are led to a complete demerit of Conciliar decisions, and before Your flock disintegrates because of negligence on our part.

In humility and in awareness of episcopal responsibility, we submit the above to Your affection and judgment and remain,

in Athens the 26th of September 2009

With Respect, honour and love in the Lord

+ John of Pergamon

Orthodox Co-Chairman of the Committee for the Theological Dialogue between Orthodox and Roman Catholics