“What about the Orthodox?”

I have just been listening to a number of podcasts from John Cleary’s Sunday Night program on ABC Radio National on the subject of “The Future of the Church”. It all got a little boring after a while (although I enjoyed listening to my Evangelical friend Prof. Brian Edgar trying to explain to the Catholic and the Anglican on one episode that it was “all about Christ” – I don’t think they quite got it…).

Then Christine sent through a link to this mob calling itself “The American Catholic Council”. They too are on about “the future of the Church”:

American Catholic Council is a movement bringing together a network of individuals, organizations, and communities to consider the state and future of our Church. We believe our Church is at a turning point in its history. We recall the promise of the Second Vatican Council for a renaissance of the roles and responsibilities of all the Baptized through a radically inclusive and engaged relationship between the Church and the World. We respond to the Spirit of Vatican II by summoning the Baptized together to demonstrate our re-commitment. We seek personal conversion to renew our Church to conform to the authentic Gospel message, the teachings of our Church, and our lived context in the United States. Our reading of the “signs of the times”, as we experience them in the US, our plan and our agenda are set out in our Declaration. We educate; we listen; we facilitate discussions and encounters; and, we build toward an American Catholic Council at Pentecost 2011. At this Council we hope to proclaim our belief in the Rights and Responsibilities of US Catholics.

The idea that has been going through my head as I listen to all this is: “How Occidental this all is.” In other words, I wonder what would happen to all this blather if we just put our hand up and said: “Aren’t you forgetting about the Orthodox?”

Aidan Nichols knows what I am talking about and says it in the conclusion to his great “Rome and the Eastern Churches”.

Rome…not only desires but needs reunion with the Orthodox East. In the face of her own numerous theological liberals and the innovationist tendencies of churchmen (and churchwomen) in various portions of her far-flung “Western” patriarchate, from Santiago de Chile to Manila, from Melbourne to Detroit, Catholicism’s grasp of the historic Christian tradition can only be strengthened by the accession of Orthodoxy to communion with Rome. In such matters as the upholding of the transcendentality of revelation vis-a-vis human understanding; the defence of the Trinitarian and Christological doctrine of the first seven councils; a perception of the nature of salvation as more than temporal alone; the maintenance of a classical liturgical life; the nourishment of group and personal devotion to Mary and the saints; the preservation of the threefold apostolic ministry of bishops, presbyters, and deacons (in that same gender in which the incarnate Word exercised his own high priesthood); the encouragement of the consecrated life, especially in its most basic form. monasticism; and the preservation of the ascetic dimension in spirituality, in all of these the present struggle of the papacy to uphold Catholic faith and practice in a worldwide communion exposed to a variety of intellectual and cultural influences often baleful, if some times also beneficent, can only benefit from Orthodox aid.

So next time you are in a conversation where someone is going on and on about how this or that should be done for the future of “our Church”, just stick your hand up and say: “What about the Orthodox?”

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41 responses to ““What about the Orthodox?”

  1. So, David, are you saying that the next time some individual or group says ‘recall the promise of the Second Vatican Council for a renaissance of the roles and responsibilities of all the Baptized …’, or something along those lines, we should respond with “What about the Orthodox?”?

    Or, to really cut to the chase, are you suggesting there is a conflict between the Second Vatican Council and the Orthodox?

    • Salvatore

      “…are you suggesting there is a conflict between the Second Vatican Council and the Orthodox?”

      No, I suspect he’s suggesting that there’s a conflict between the Second Vatican Council and those who make exaggerated and unfounded claims as to what the Council set out to achieve; that this tends to be a particularly ‘western’ school of thought; and that the Orthodox represent a useful corrective to such a thinking.

      All of which makes sense to me. 😉

      • Well if the quoted text from the American Catholic Council is an example of ‘exaggerated and unfounded claims’, Salvatore, I’d like to know why.

        If not, then my rejoinder would be ‘What about the West’?

        😉

        • Tom

          The quoted text isn’t objectionable, but that’s mostly because it does not really say anything. To virtually every sentence, one could follow up with the statement, “tell me more…”

          However, clicking on the link provided, one finds oneself in precisely the situation that Salvatore described. The unfounded claims and exaggerated interpretations of Vatican II are discussed when one begins talking about “However, we have attracted representatives of…others involved in specific reform agendas such as optional celibacy, women’s ordination, GLT…” This was the statement that especially caught my eye (mostly because the three capitals together are eye-catching).

          Essentially it depends how Vatican II is to be understood – as a continuity of the history and tradition of the Church? Or as a break with the history and tradition of the Church? If it is a break, then such an interpretation as provided by the ACC is in itself unobjectionable. Without the history through which to understand what Vatican II is trying to achieve, then I’m sure it can be made to say, well, more or less whatever you want it to say.

          Instead, if Vatican II is to be understood as a renewal of the Church, primarily in line with the history and tradition of the Church, then such statements are irreconcilable. The tradition of the Church has things to say about the Human Person and who and what (s)he is. That means whatever Vatican II has to say, if we read Vatican II through the history and tradition of the Church, then comments about female ordination, and transgender, gay and lesbian rights represent (essentially) a break with the Church. Asking ‘what about the Orthodox?’ provides an historical context with which to read Vatican II, since both the Orthodox and the Latin Church stem from the same historical tradition.

          In terms of understanding ‘What about the west?’ I suspect that the root of the problem stems from the nature of Analytic philosophy which, in its more extreme forms, tends to divorce any position from its context. Thus, an interpretation of Vatican II, purely from the texts and without the guide of the tradition of the Church (which is, what I think ACC is trying to present) can be corrected by an Orthodox position (by which I mean both orthos logos and the Eastern Church).

      • Spot on, Salvatore. That’s my point precisely.

        Of course, in any future reunion between Rome and the Eastern Orthodox, the whole status of the ecumenical councils (those of the first millenium included almost no westerners and those of the second included almost no easterners) needs to be addressed – again, Aidan Nichols has good stuff on this in Rome and the Eastern Churches. However, taking any of the Councils in directions that exclude the Eastern Church is a recipe for continued separation. Our hope is that both “lungs” of the Church, East and West, will be able to find a way toward affirming all the Councils of the Church and their teachings.

  2. Bravo!

    The obvious point: for them the Orthodox either don’t exist or are cool ecumenical window dressing that talks, not to be taken seriously, rather like Tibetan Buddhists, a culture to be looted very selectively (‘Oh, I LOVE icons!’), its exoticness keeping it at a safe distance.

    Case in point, with liberal Protestants: when a Byelorussian Orthodox priest was invited this year to speak at the convention of the mainline Presbyterian Church USA and told them what for because they were voting to approve homosexuality. He went off the understood script for these things in which he was supposed to smile beatifically, say ‘Tank you veddy much!’ like Latka Gravas and say sweet spiritual nothings that in no way challenge his ‘enlightened’ hosts, like the Dalai Lama talking to Westerners.

    If Orthodoxy were taken seriously they’d see it’s… a lot like traditional Western Catholicism and they’d hate it about as much. No Pope to blame yet they’re not liberals/Modernists. ‘What’s wrong with these people?’

    ‘Maybe they’re just backward.’ Sometimes the mask slips and the libs stop being patronising and show bare-fanged contempt, in a longstanding form in the West: anti-Russianism, from variations on Jewish put-down dumb-Slav jokes to revivals of the Cold War scare (‘those stupid Russkies will blow us all up’). (’90s version: anti-Serbianism.)

    Logically in the Western mind the Orthodox shouldn’t exist as they are. Rome with the Pope should have ridden out the ’60s nearly unscathed and the Orthodox disintegrated into liberal Protestantism. But that didn’t happen.

    If an Orthodox bishop tried to pull something like the Novus Ordo there’d be fistfights in the street. (In 1920s Russia the Soviets did try something like that. It didn’t take.)

  3. Tony: yes, absolutely, ask ‘What about the Orthodox?’

    It’s a cliché of RC officials and liberals that V2 brought Rome closer to the Orthodox while it’s obvious to the man on the street it made RCs less like the Orthodox and more like the Protestants. Collegiality, token deacons and tacked-on epicleses and icons do not Orthodox make.

    • Gotta say I just love it when someone perports to know what ‘the man in the street’ thinks.

      • Just Google pictures of the Tridentine Mass, the Orthodox Liturgy and the Novus Ordo.

        One of these things is not like the other.
        One of these things just doesn’t belong.

        • It is very clear to me, YF (NB I make no claim to represent any mythical ‘man in the street’), from such a triptych that, of the two images that represent communities ‘in the tent’ of Rome, the TM is very different … or, if you insist, ‘does not fit’ … to the way the vast majority of Catholics legitimately celebrate Mass.

          But ‘does not fit’ is ‘my way or the highway language’. TM does fit, albeit in a small way and sometimes in tension with the majority. As one old enough to remember the TM, I think that’s just fine.

          If the NO is one huge mistake, however, I expect that argument to be made on it’s own merits, not because it may or may not effect our relationship with the Orthodox. (Same with other VatII reforms, if it comes to that. Same with future reforms too!)

          If the NO is right and the church is big enough to embrace the TM, it will show the Orthodox that it is big enough to embrace their liturgical expression too.

          • PS

            I guess it also needs to be said that your ‘tryptich’ is not particularly representative of the universal church either, YF.

            There are many forms of liturgical expression when you take the different rites into account. They seem to live quite comfortably with the majority NO expression … well, at least they don’t seem to adopt a ‘my way or the highway’ approach even though their traditions are also very old.

            In fact, I have friends who were brought up attending their community’s Ukranian Orthodox masses.

            As they grew up and married they regularly attended local NO masses and went back to the traditional mass for special occasions. So they had the best of both worlds and it kept them in touch with their traditions.

            That could be a selling point (for want of a better expression) to the ‘Orthodox’!

          • As one old enough to remember the TM

            Good Lord, Tony, you old devil. And here I was thinking you were a young’un! If you “remember it”, with any real clarity of memory and not just infant impressions, you must be at least 10 years older than me. That explains a lot.

            • That explains a lot.

              Now there’s a statement pregnant with possibilities!

              My memories of the pre-VatII mass was that watching the grass grow was more involving and, as an altar boy, sneeking the odd glance at the congregation who were a picture of mass (no pun intended) disengagement.

              Notwithstanding those memories, as an adult I’ve come to appreciate our traditions — especially the music — and, if it wasn’t for the ‘my way or the highway’ zealots who seem to congregate (again, no pun intended) around the trad masses, I’d probably be open to attending one or two for old time’s sake.

              (Me a cowboy, me a cowboy, me a Mexican cowboy. 😉 )

              • Gareth

                Tony: My memories of the pre-VatII mass was that watching the grass grow was more involving and, as an altar boy, sneeking the odd glance at the congregation who were a picture of mass (no pun intended) disengagement.

                Gareth: How do you know other people’s memories were or experiences were vastly different?

                Anyhow, one has to query whether taking the mindset that ‘that was my perception of the church in the 1950s’ is a sensible way of looking at things anyway.

                It is the year 2010 and people’s concerns about the liturgy etc should ideally be based on what is experienced in the year 2010, not the 1950s.

                E.G – whether the congregation is engaged at this present age and what can be done about it is what we should be assessing, not what people supposdely did in the 1950s.

                Also, I thought you of all people Tony would be careful in labelling people ‘zealots’ – an unfair ad hoc attack if I do say so.

                • Tony

                  How do you know other people’s memories were or experiences were vastly different?

                  I don’t. I never claimed to.

                  Anyhow, one has to query whether taking the mindset that ‘that was my perception of the church in the 1950s’ is a sensible way of looking at things anyway.

                  I wasn’t claiming that it was ‘a sensible way of looking at things’.

                  It is the year 2010 and people’s concerns about the liturgy etc should ideally be based on what is experienced in the year 2010, not the 1950s.

                  Tell that to the traddies!

                  E.G – whether the congregation is engaged at this present age and what can be done about it is what we should be assessing, not what people supposdely did in the 1950s.

                  Beyond my own experience, I made no comment on ‘what people supposdely did in the 1950s’.

                  Also, I thought you of all people Tony would be careful in labelling people ‘zealots’ – an unfair ad hoc attack if I do say so.

                  Why is it ‘ad hoc’?

                  • Gareth

                    Tons: Tell that to the traddies!

                    Gareth: An interesting arguement that those that consider themselves Traddy basing their beliefs on want take things back to the 1950s.

                    From my own experience, this is seldom the case and most people that would attend a TLM is due to their lack of liturgical, moral or spiritual needs being adequately met at their local parish level, rather than anything based on taking the things back to the 1950s.

                    Being attracted to traditional Catholicism somehow fills a ‘void’ that parishs or priests in their area fail in providing proper direction.

                    • An interesting arguement that those that consider themselves Traddy basing their beliefs on want take things back to the 1950s.

                      It was not an ‘argument’, Gareth! It was just a flippant remark.

                      From my own experience, this is seldom the case …

                      From your own experience?

                      I guess I’d have to paraphrase your own words: ‘Anyhow, one has to query whether taking the mindset that ‘that was my experience of traditional Catholicism’ is a sensible way of looking at things anyway’.

  4. Chris Jones

    I am always puzzled when Catholics say things like ‘Catholicism “needs” reunion with the Orthodox.’ If Rome is the fulness of the Catholic Church, how can she “need” anything? And if there is some hunger that only the Orthodox can feed, a lack which only they can supply, does that not call into question Rome’s claim of Catholicity? I think it does.

    Fr Nichols writes that “Catholicism’s grasp of the historic Christian tradition can only be strengthened by the accession of Orthodoxy to communion with Rome”; but the split occurred in the first place because (from the East’s point of view) Rome’s “grasp of the historic Christian tradition” had weakened to a dangerous degree. The answer is not that Orthodoxy should “accede to communion with Rome” but that Rome should “accede” to the Apostolic Tradition. If Rome “needs” Orthodoxy’s strong and abiding witness, what does that tell you about who should “accede” to whom?

    • I think you misunderstand a crucial point, Chris. Fr Nichols called his book “Rome and the Eastern Churches”, not “The Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church”. Rome is a single local Church, even if it is the Protos, the one presiding in love, over all the Churches. Rome is not and never has claimed to be “the fullness of the Catholic Church”.

      As far as claims of “fullness” go, herewith the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

      816 For it is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained.

      819 the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church

      824 It is in the Church that “the fullness of the means of salvation” [UR 3# 5] has been deposited.

      830 In her [the Catholic Church] subsists the fullness of Christ’s body united with its head; this implies that she receives from him “the fullness of the means of salvation” [UR 3; AG 6; Eph 1:22-23] which he has willed: correct and complete confession of faith, full sacramental life, and ordained ministry in apostolic succession.

      838 With the Orthodox Churches, this communion [with the Catholic Church established in baptism] is so profound “that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord’s Eucharist” [Paul VI, Discourse,December 14, 1975; cf. UR 13-18].

      854 “With regard to individuals, groups, and peoples it is only by degrees that [the Church] touches and penetrates them and so receives them into a fullness which is Catholic” [AG 6# 2].

      855 Indeed, “divisions among Christians prevent the Church from realizing in practice the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her sons who, though joined to her by Baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her. Furthermore, the Church herself finds it more difficult to express in actual life her full catholicity in all its aspects” [as a result of these divisions] [UR 4# 8].

      I think the last two quotations are particularly pertinent. In short, firstly any claims to “fullness” are not made by Rome of Rome but by Rome of the Catholic Church, and that understood as the Church Catholic, not some “denomination” called “Roman Catholicism”. Roman Catholicism (whatever that may be) is not and never has claimed to be “the fullness of the Catholic Church”. And CCC 855 makes clear that when there are baptised Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church then the Catholic Church, which indeed is “fully catholic”, nevertheless “finds it more difficult to express in actual life her full catholicity”. So the upshot is that in order to “express in actual life her full catholicity”, the Catholic Church NEEDS communion with the Orthodox Churches.

      • Chris Jones

        “I think you misunderstand a crucial point”

        No. I understand the distinction between Rome as a local Church and “the Catholic Church” as the universal Church of which the local Church of Rome is (according to Catholic teaching) the Protos. I was simply using “Rome” as a synechdoche for “the Catholic Church as defined in Catholicism.”

        As I understand it, the Catholic Church teaches that the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of the Creed consists of all the local Churches presided over by their bishops who are in communion with the local Church of Rome, presided over by the Pope as the successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ. Those of us who take seriously the theological notion of catholicity, but nevertheless do not agree with that definition of the Church, always have a terminological problem. When we speak of “the Catholic Church,” sometimes we mean “the Church body whose earthly head is the Pope,” and sometimes we mean “the Church confessed in the Creed.” Catholics do not have this difficulty, of course, because they believe that these two things are more or less one and the same.

        So if I may use “the Roman Catholic Church” to mean “the Church body headed by the Pope,” and “the Catholic Church” to mean “the Church which we confess in the Creed,” then I may restate what I said above as follows:

        If the Roman Catholic Church is the fulness of the Catholic Church, how can she “need” anything? And if there is some hunger that only the Orthodox can feed, a lack which only they can supply, does that not call into question the Roman Catholic Church’s claim to be, in fact, the Catholic Church? I think it does.

        That paragraph has no dependence on “Rome” as a see or as a local Church, and as re-stated, I stand by it.

        With all that said, I will say that your comment has made me understand the Catholic position a little better. I understand the distinction that is drawn between catholicity per se and catholicity “expressed in actual life.” I don’t buy it, but I understand it. I still think the official Catholic attitude towards the Orthodox is ecclesiologically incoherent, but at least I understand it better now.

        • I am glad you included your last paragraph in your reply, Chris, otherwise I would have thought that you had missed my point entirely.

          I will pick a point with your definition “the Church body headed by the Pope”, since the pope is not the “head” of the Church (that, as many Orthodox point out to me incessantly, is Jesus). Better to say “the Churches in Communion with the Pope”.

          I am aware that there is some debate in the Orthodox Church about whether or not the local churches in communion with the Roman local Church are or are not part of “the Church which we confess in the Creed”. There is some “ecclesiological incoherance” in this disagreement also. At least we (ie. “the Churches in Communion with the Pope”) are consistent in saying that the Orthodox local Churches are true churches (because they have true ministers and true sacraments), and thus truly belong to “the Church which we confess in the Creed” as much as we do, even if they are not “in communion with the Pope”.

          How we can say this, and at the same time say that the Catholic Church fully subsists (and that is technically the word we use) only in the “the Churches in Communion with the Pope” is in fact a problem we have with the “mystery” of the Church rather than any incoherance in our ecclesiology. In fact our difficulty with this paradox precisely arises out of the fact that we are absolutely coherant in our ecclesiology – it is just that this very coherance produces an equation something like “A=B and B=C even though C does not actually = A”.

          So when we define the Catholic Church as subsisting fully in the Churches in communion with the Church of Rome, the intention is not to exclude the Orthodox Churches from the subsistence of the Catholic Church. We have repeatedly said that all that is required for the full expression of that subsistence with the Orthodox Church is full communion. That is somewhat more generous than most Orthodox tend to be toward the Church of Rome, I can tell you!

          • William Tighe

            “I will pick a point with your definition ‘the Church body headed by the Pope’, since the pope is not the ‘head’ of the Church (that, as many Orthodox point out to me incessantly, is Jesus). Better to say ‘the Churches in Communion with the Pope’.”

            Um, the Council of Florence defined that the Pope is the “head” of the Church, viz.:

            “Item diffinimus, sanctam Apostolicam sedem, et Romanum Pontificem, in universum orbem tenere primatum, et ipsum Pontificem Romanum successorem esse beati Petri principis Apostolorum et verum Christi vicarium, totiusque Ecclesiae caput et omnium Christianorum patrem et doctorem exsistere; et ipsi in beato Petro pascendi, regendi ac gubernandi universalem Ecclesiam a Domino nostro Iesu Christo plenam potestatem traditam esse; quemadmodum etiam in gestis oecumenicoruk Conciliorum et in sacris canonibus continetur.”

            — From the Bull “Laetentur coelis,” 6 July 1439, 694

            (“We define also, that the holy Apostolic See, and Roman Pontiff, holds the primacy over the whole world, and that that same Roman Pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter, the prince of the Apostles and true vicar of Christ, and that he endures as head of the whole Church and as father and teacher of all Christians; and that to him has been handed over from our Lord Jesus Christ full power to shepherd, rule and govern the whole Church; just as is also contained in the records of the ecumenical Councils and in the sacred canons.”)

          • Chris Jones

            ‘I will pick a point with your definition “the Church body headed by the Pope”, since the pope is not the “head” of the Church’

            Well I did say “the Church body whose earthly head is the Pope” — I am trying to be precise here. And (as Bill pointed out) the notion that the Pope is not the head of the Church would come as a surprise to the bishops at Florence (and to most Catholics today).

            “all that is required for the full expression of that subsistence with the Orthodox Church is full communion”

            But full communion requires, and implies, full agreement in the faith; and that full agreement in the faith does not exist. There are many points of doctrine, which the Catholic Church has made matters of dogma, on which the two Churches are not in agreement (the filioque, purgatory, indulgences, the merits of the saints, and (last but not least) Papal universal ordinary jurisdiction and Papal infallibility). To enter into full communion while those doctrinal disagreements persist would be a lie.

            It is true that the Orthodox are less “generous” towards the Catholics than the Catholics are towards the Orthodox. But that, it seems to me, is because the Orthodox take more seriously the dogmatic issues that divide the two Churches. In my view, the Orthodox give those dogmatic issues the respect that they are due. The Catholics, not so much.

  5. As an Orthodox Christian I find this discussion a bit surreal.

    We seek personal conversion to renew our Church…

    For the Orthodox this statement doesn’t even make sense. We don’t renew the Church…the Church renews us! Maybe it is just a language or communication mistake by the author?

    …and from the comments

    If the NO is right and the church is big enough to embrace the TM, it will show the Orthodox that it is big enough to embrace their liturgical expression too.

    🙂 This might be appealing to the Australian equivalent of the US ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) which unites itself with other denominations that do not share the same confession of faith but a “hey, your liturgy will work here, too” isn’t a selling point at all to the Orthodox. We are not really a Church that is looking for a large variety of liturgies. Besides your uniate churches use our liturgies so that message has already been run up the flagpole. And to be honest, we do have a Western Rite but it is at best tolerated and at worst…not so much. A bit unfortunate because I think it would be something Anglicans looking for a more traditional Church home would appreciate.

    But David thanks for thinking about us! I think I will be back with a new blog in the next month or so. I’ll let you know.

    • Whoops…I just read wikipedia and learned uniate is considered a derogatory term. Very Sorry. Please substitute that word with “Eastern Catholic”.

      • The history of the Eastern Catholic Churches is worth reading up on, Dixie. I have just ploughed through Aidan Nichol’s book on the whole matter (Rome and the Eastern Churches), which you might find enlightening – even if from a “Roman” point of view. Their history is different in every case, and (except for the Maronite Church) quite complicated. They bear nothing in similarity to the “Western Rite” in some Orthodox jurisdictions. The popular Orthodox view of the nature of the Eastern Churches in Communion with the Bishop of Rome (which is, strictly speaking, the fairest way to describe them) is not really fair to the history and nature of these Churches. To call them “uniate” is a bit like calling Anglicans “protestant”. It is a “sneer” term.

    • We are not really a Church that is looking for a large variety of liturgies.

      Who says? If you go around the world or even within a particular country, the variety is extraordinary even within the NO framework. When you take in other rites, your assertion would not seem to be born out by what we see, Dixie.

      And to be honest, we do have a Western Rite but it is at best tolerated and at worst…not so much.

      Again, on what basis do you make such a claim? If we are talking about the people who regularly attend mass, the NO is the overwhelming preference.

      If we are talking about the millions who are nominal Catholics and don’t attend regularly, there’s no evidence I’ve seen to suggest that it’s particularly because they don’t like the NO or, more to the point, that they’d prefer a more traditional liturgy. The choice is seems to be the NO or nothing.

      • I was speaking about the Orthodox not looking for a large variety of Divine Liturgies…and using the Western Rite of the Orthodox as a case in point. It is tolerated but there have been Orthodox who have spoken against it. Regardless of varied opinions the Orthodox Church clearly accepts at least two forms of the Western Rite mass. I wish I knew more about them to be able to explain their origins. They both precede VII though.

        I was speaking only about the Orthodox, we do not have a NO and I have no idea what nominal or devout and pious Catholics prefer. However…we all must realize that sometimes the things we want are not the things we need. The Church must provide the things we need.

        • William Tighe

          “I was speaking only about the Orthodox, we do not have a NO”

          Actually, you do, in the Philippines. There is an Antiochian Orthodox Western Rite vicariate there that does the whole Novus Ordo schtick: celebration “facing the people;” caterwaulting passing for “sacred music; Hispanic-style “devotions” — the whole lot. It’s a great embarrassment to many of my Orthodox friends.

          • Ah…sometimes I can be so US-centric. I can only imagine how some of those in my country who are not so keen on what we have for WR would think about the Philippines version! Thanks for the info.

          • Tony Bartel

            The have a few icons. Isn’t that all it takes to make you Orthodox? 🙂

    • We seek personal conversion to renew our Church…

      For the Orthodox this statement doesn’t even make sense. We don’t renew the Church…the Church renews us! Maybe it is just a language or communication mistake by the author?

      No it isn’t a mistake, which is why I quoted it. These guys do not have an ecclesial vision that includes Eastern Christianity. A vision which includes both East and West shows, just as you say, that “this statement doesn’t make sense”. We would – and you too I imagine – be more comfortable with saying “The Spirit of God renews the Church”. He does this through, inter alia, bringing about personal conversion.

  6. Well, I was tempted to suggest that the Orthodox are not the future of the church, they are its past, but that would be only half-true in more than one way. More seriously, the collision of Orthodoxy with contemporary occidental post-modernity is one of the more interesting fronts in which the church battles the world at the moment. As far as I can tell, the result seems to be either slow capitulation (in Russian circles one might cite “Parisian Orthodoxy” or its step-daughter the OCA) or retreat into romanticism (a la ROCOR or increasingly the MP). But what would I know?

  7. Matthias

    I read a book earlier this year ” the next christianity” or something like that,in which the author believes that the Orthodox church will steadily lose numbers as opposed to the catholic church and protestantism-especially pentecostalism- because ,unlike the other two,orthodoxy is bound by being too tied to a particular nationalistic outlook and does not generally support missionary activities, as such. can anyone enlighten me or correct me on this position

    • Philip Jenkins (I think in this book The Next Christendom) suggested that four types of Christianity, Catholicism, Evangelicalism, Pentecostalism and Orthodoxy, were the ones that would mark the future of Christianity. Guessing the future of Orthodoxy is a tough one, given that many Orthodox Churches are just in the process of coming out of a 500 year domination by either Islam or Communism. We really have to wait and see. All bets are off. Yes, nationalism and ethnocentricity are a real problem for Orthodoxy (and Eastern Catholics too, for that matter), but the Western diaspora is throwing up real challenges in all respects to that.

      • Matthias

        if you google australian orthodox mission you will see that there is a ROCA sanctioned mission in Spring Street melbourne ,who seem to be operating as Mission judging by their website. What is interesting is that they use English rather than Church Slavonic in the Divine Liturgy,because they feel that it would be alienating- well that’s the impression i have. It is interesting that the Russian Catholics just up the road in Alexander Parade,use Russian except for the last sunday of the month when english is spoken. The MelkiteGreek catholics in Fairfield have a English mass at 6pm on Sunday nights. The Antiochian orthodox misson at monash university religious centre uses English for its Divine Liturgy and the priests name is Fr Geoff.
        Just thought i would throw that into the soup.

  8. An Liaig

    The head of the Church is a term often used very loosely, even by councils of the Church, but theologicaly David is, of course, correct. I would also point out that the Orthodox DO have their very own “Novus Ordo”. It is the liturgy of St John Chrysostom, celebrated almost every Sunday in Orthodox and Byzantine Eastern Catholic Churches around the world. This is a reform of the original Liturgy of St. Basil which is only used on special occasions because it is too long (a liturgy which the Orthodox consider to be too long and too wordy!!!). The relationship between the two has parrallels with the Catholic use of the Tridentine and modern Roman liturgy. It is just that their liturgical reform happened a long time ago. Also, the modern Roman liturgy, if said using the option to face east during the eucharistic prayer, has far more in common with the Byzantine liturgy than the Tridentine liturgy does. Look beyond the terms “traditional” and “new”, lookmbeyond the sometimes appalling celebration of rite (and I am including the Orthodox in this) and look at the structure and meaning of the liturgy. We are much closer to the Orthodox now than we were at the time of Florence.

    • William Tighe

      Without writing at excessive length, I have to say that the version of the historical relationship between the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and the liturgy of St. Basil set out in the above comment is largely mythological. Save for their respective anaphoras (eucharistic prayers) the latter is not notably longer than the former — although it was probably due to the differing lengths of those anaphoras that the latter gradually superseded the former as the more-often-used liturgy of the Church of Constantinople. But far from originating as a “reform” of St. Basil’s anaphora, St. John Chrysostom’s simply existed alongside it. This can be understood when one looks at the “West Syrian” liturgical family of churches, which includes the (miaphysite) Syriac Orthodox, the Syriac Catholics and the Maronites, in the liturgical books of which there exist some 75 anaphoras, most of them seldom or never used, but still there (at least among the Syriac Orthodox; among the Maronites the number of “authorized” anaphoras was once reduced to 4 or 5, but a number of them have been restored since the 1970s — perhaps I should write “restored” since some of them have been rather savagely abridged, as, e.g., that of the Liturgy of St. James).

      • William Tighe

        POSTSCRIPT

        Computer analysis of the stylistic peculiarities of the Greek syntax and grammatical particles over the past decade has given good reason to believe that the anaphora of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom was complied by the saint himself, and that of St. Basil likewise by St. Basil. Taking that as read (1) the anaphora of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is not a revision of that of St. Basil, but rather a reworking of “the Anaphora of the Holy Apostles,” which still exists and is used among the churches of the West Syriac tradition, and with which St. JC was no doubt well acquainted from his years in Antioch; and (2) that of St. Basil exists in three versions: a short version, used by the Egyptian Copts (and adapted with varying degrees of distortion by Latin Catholics in EP IV of the Novus Ordo and by the American Episcopalians); a longer version, unused for centuries, that survives only in Armenian; and the longest version, which is the Byzantine/Orthodox one. Linguistic analysis appears to indicate that these last two versions came from the pen of St. Basil himself, and between these two the differences are not only of added material, but a careful reworking of the order of the petitions in the latter part of the prayer — and possibly the first version was “arranged” by him as well, although some argue that it is of Egyptian origin (despite its notable differences from the native Egyptian anaphoral tradition, as exemplified in the “Anaphora of St. Mark,” now used by the Copts only once a year under the title of the “Anaphora of St. Cyril”).

  9. Peregrinus

    Um, why the assumption that the American Catholic Council is “forgetting about the Orthodox”?

    The call is, as already noted, fairly silent on specifics. But if we share with David the assumption that what they are on about is “Spirit of Vatican II” stuff, then it’s worth bearing a few things in mind.

    First, the American Catholic church, more than most national churches, itself comprises Eastern and Western Catholics. 17 American “particular churches” are Eastern exarchates/eparchies, versus about 174 Latin dioceses. This is probably not a thousand miles from the worldwide balance between Eastern and Western Catholics; in fact the US church may be the one which, of all national churches, is closest to reflecting the makup of the universal church in this regard. There is no reason to suppose, therefore, that American Catholics are blind to Eastern sensibilities. This is as true for “progressives” as it is for “conservatives”. Historically, in fact, it’s the Ultramontanists with whom Eastern Catholics in the US have had the greatest difficulty.

    Secondly, a good deal of the supposed “Spirit of Vatican II” agenda would appeal to Eastern sensibilities. You want greater autonomy from Roman jurisdiction? The Eastern churches already have greater jurisdictional autonomy, and many of them would like still more. You don’t, for example, want Rome appointing, shifting and dismissing diocesans? Neither do Eastern Catholics. (And neither, in spades, do the Orthodox.) You want a more pastorally sensitive and flexible approach to the divorced and remarried? One which can accommodate admission of the divorce-and-remarried to the Eucharist? Welcome to Orthodoxy! (And – whisper it; they’re not supposed to know this in Rome – to Eastern Catholicism.) You want married priests? I don’t have to even have to say . . . You’re concerned about the disconnect between what the church teaches about contraception and the reception by the faithful of this teaching? Well, I have news for you with respect to Eastern Catholics on that point too.

    Eastern Catholics in the US are American Catholics too, after all.

    So, what makes anybody think that the ACC is “forgetting about the Orthodox”? It may well be that on some issues – the ordination of women, for example – views will be expressed at the conference which an orthodox Orthodox Christian (so to speak) would repudiate. On the other hand, things have been said on this very blog – in the comments, David – about, say, clerical celibacy which Orthodox Christians would repudiate. If that’s to be the test, then “forgetting about the Orthodox” (or, more accurately, discounting the Orthodox) is not a fault of the ACC alone.