11 December 2021

BYZANTIUM AND RATZINGER

I am a philhellene; to boot, I am philorthodox, and have been since, in 1961, I first went to Oxford's Orthodox Church (then in the sitting room of 1 Canterbury Road); met there Nicolas Zernov - him of the Theological tea-parties - and was introduced to a bespectacled young man called Timothy Ware. 

In my second curacy, in south London, I was privileged by the close friendship of Christophoros (the future) Bishop of Telmissos, who, lacking a deacon, used me as a sort of mute but vested diaconal dummy during his Holy Week services. When Lancing was celebrating its 150th anniversary, we secured a long and very gracious Message from His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew, which I directed to be solemnly processed up the Church at the Offertory, preceded by candles and incense. I have never lost my conviction that Byzantine Orthodoxy has great riches which it is our duty humbly and submissively to assimilate. For example, I share the view of Joseph Ratzinger that the West has never properly assimilated the iconological inheritance of the Seventh Ecumenical Council and his view that we Westerners should take on board the entire development of that tradition as laid out in a succession of councils which took place in an East separated from Rome down to a midsixteenth century Council of Moskow. And I am glad that S Gregory Palamas is on the calendars of Byzantine-rite Churches in full communion with the Holy See. 

You will have sensed that there is a but coming. There is. In my Anglican days I was once criticised at Walsingham, in a public forum by a well-known Orthodox for having, in a Mass advertised as 'Anglican', said the filioque. I am afraid it made me feel combative. All the more so because it was the only negative uttered by any participant, in a conference including Presbyterian, Methodist, Reform, Anglican, 'Uniate', Orthodox, during the entire four days. My initial reaction was to think "I don't lecture the Orthodox on what they should omit from their Liturgy". My second reaction: "English Christianity has explicitly proclaimed filioque since at least the Council of Hatfield (680) recorded in Bede; an event more than a century earlier than the day when an Irish monk inserted it supra lineam in the 'Stowe Missal'; Hatfield was a Council presided over by an Eastern monk whom 'English Orthodox' claim as one of their own." (What price here the claims made by these Orthodox that "the Anglo-Saxon Church was Orthodox"?) And my final thought: " filioque is in our Articles, our Liturgy, and our Quicunque vult; if they want us to drop it they can jolly well ask us extremely nicely".

Intriguing (and characteristic) that Cardinal Ratzinger, in his Dominus Iesus, began with the Nicene Creed in Latin but without the filioque. It makes me all the sadder that the Orthodox national churches, as, I think, their recent Council demonstrated, seem to have very little interest in anything outside their own internal squabbles.

But, however abruptly they disown or disdain us (and even each other), we should stick firmly to the fine teaching in Ratzinger's Communionis notio that each of the dioceses of the separated Byzantine Churches is a true, if wounded, particular Church of Christ. 

Gently sticking to this, even if it elicits no response, is true and Catholic 'Ecumenism'; so very much more so than the impulsive Gestepolitik of the current pontificate.

21 comments:

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dea5 Father. It has become popular among Catholics to say that the Filoque could/shoube be abandoned to enhance the possibility of a reunion with those who call themselves Orthodox.

Fr. Jean Joseph Gaume notes the similarities of the destruction of Jerusalem, which blasphemed against Our Lord for three years, and the overthrow of Constantinople which followed thirteen years (close of the Council of Florence) of blaspheming against the Holy Ghost.

The interesting similarities are written about in "The Catechism of Peseverance"

https://tinyurl.com/bdzdetkc

There exist other reasons why the Filoque must be retained but this is a seldom heard reason.

pdm said...

Yes, I would agree that the Eastern Orthodox have many good qualities and ideas, but that they do behave precisely as one would expect them to behave if the Catholic understanding of their status and their schism be correct. They seem to like coming out with grand narratives of Where The West Went Wrong, which depending on the situation could be any one of a dozen doctrinal things; and they like to say how Protestant heresy grew out of Catholic error and corruption. But this strikes me as a fundamentally unfair way of arguing. All the successful heresies have been distortions of the truth, so it is not surprising that Western heresies should have a superficial resemblance to some strains of orthodox Western thought. Moreover, if they say Catholic corruption produced the Reformation, then we might mention... erm, the Russian Revolution. Disliking us seems to be an unhealthily large part of their identity (as with some Anglicans...?).

One of the great frustrations about the schism of the Eastern Orthodox, of course, is that their criticism of an overbearing papacy makes most sense now, precisely at the time when we desperately need them and the good and faithful Catholic and Anglican and Protestant converts that they are now winning in Western Europe. Historically, though, their schism does seem to have been quite unjustified. As far as I can see the article entitled 'The Great Schism' in the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1911 seems pretty compelling and accurate.

Ray Kinsella said...

Well, look this is way above my pay grade but such learning...such command of history...such elegant writing, all of it harnessed to an a thesis that commands the respect of some who knows as little as I do...point is, one way or another, it matters. God bless the work

william arthurs said...

Common Worship has two different versions of the Nicene Creed, one with and one without (see the black mass book, pp. 139 and 140). The one without, it says here, "may be used on suitable ecumenical occasions."

As my mother would have said, How convenient!

Stephen said...

It is said there is nothing quite like being shot at to clarify the mind. To wit, Christians in the west who appreciate their own liturgical patrimony are being shot at by their own pontifex maximus. Christians in the east, who are of the same bent to appreciate one's liturgical patrimony, are aghast, again, for the second time in as many generations, and ask themselves, again, "What's to stop the Papacy from trying to destroy our own liturgical patrimony?" Fortunately, we of the east do not have the burden of the all-powerful claims of the modern Papacy and a dogmatic requirement showcasing such, as you in the west do with Pastor Aeternus; but a bullet is a bullet, and we would just as soon take down those firing, or deny them bullets to begin with, thank you.

Archstanton said...

Above, pdm comments: “[T]he Eastern Orthodox... behave precisely as one would expect them to behave if the Catholic understanding of their status and their schism be correct... Disliking us seems to be an unhealthily large part of their identity (as with some Anglicans...?).” I'd like to add to this a quote from St. John Henry Newman's Essay on Development: “In one point alone the heresies seem universally to have agreed,—in hatred to the Church… It had been so from the beginning: ‘They huddle up a peace with all everywhere,’ says Tertullian, ‘for it maketh no matter to them, although they hold different doctrines, so long as they conspire together in their siege against the one thing, Truth.’… [So] it might be called a Note of the Church, as I have said, for the use of the most busy and the most ignorant, that she was on one side and all other bodies on the other.” Much like the Protestants (who are defined by their “protest” against Rome), an essential component of the Eastern Orthodox Church’s identity is anti-Catholicism, it's an irreducibly-negative position. This alone is already sufficient to mark them off as a counterfeit Church. I think you're right to regard Fr. Adrian Fortescue's Catholic Encyclopedia article as compelling and accurate; in his classic book on the same subject, he supplies further description of Eastern Orthodoxy's cartoonishly-exaggerated anti-Catholicism:

“[T]he question [of the Filioque] is still, as always, the accusation of the Orthodox against Catholics, not ours against them. They greedily found this charge, and they have never ceased clamouring about it as if it were the root of the whole Christian faith. True, two of our councils (Lyons II and Florence) defined the Filioque, though with every possible moderation and tolerance towards their view; but that was only after they had talked about it, and anathematized us for centuries. Even now Rome has never asked them to say the words in their Creed, the Uniates do not do so, although, of course, every Catholic must believe what was defined at Florence. It is they who cannot forgive us for saying it in our Creed. A question, first raked up simply as a convenient weapon against the Pope, has loomed so large to them that they really seem to think it the chief point of the faith. Let any one look at the confessions and documents they have drawn up since the schism and count the pages devoted to this question alone. And they all know about it. Schoolboys learn at the very beginning of their catechism about the horrible heresy of the Latins on this point. Greek officers, boatmen, porters, are not distinguished for theological scholarship, but they all know that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father alone. The young men at Athens, who have dabbled in higher criticism and Darwinism, are shaky about many points of the Christian faith, but on one point they never swerve: the Holy Ghost does not proceed from the Son. Mr. Skarlatos Byzantios has composed a very useful Greek-French lexicon. When he comes to [a certain] preposition, one example of its use at once occurs to him, and he illustrates the fact that it takes the genitive by [a] sentence… which he proceeds to translate for the Western student by informing him, ‘le Saint-Esprit procède du Père seul.’”

Archstanton said...

[2/2] This effectively explains why the “well-known Orthodox” couldn’t help but criticize Fr. Hunwicke at that conference for reciting the Creed with the Filioque, despite the obviously-inappropriate circumstances for issuing such a criticism: their squabble with Rome defines their religion in no small part. And this is why I sometimes get annoyed with Catholics who take too chummy an attitude towards Orthodoxy. We rightly appreciate their pious regard for Tradition, but they represent a false repository of the Tradition and act as a temptation to lead Christians astray from the One True Church, the Catholic Church. This is very grave.

Regarding iconology, I can appreciate the view that there are potentially certain insights to be gained from theological and liturgical developments which have taken place in the Eastern Orthodox Church. But I’ll also always be keen to insist that they still need to become less squeamish about three-dimensional sacred images, in conformity with the Western attitude if not with Western practice, for orthodoxy’s sake.

Regarding their fears of an overbearing papacy, I mostly regard this as a cheap subterfuge. Even a child could, if properly instructed and rightfully disposed, comprehend the distinction between Ecclesiological doctrine on the one hand and the concrete practice of Church-governance on the other hand. No element of modern Catholic Ecclesiology is strictly incompatible with the practice of the early Church, and there’s no reason why the papacy could not behave in a way similar to the latter. If anything, bringing the Eastern Patriarchs back into the fold could potentially allow the Popes to rely on them rather than doing so much themselves. And at the end of the day, doctrine trumps policy anyway, so if the Orthodox don’t like a papacy which regularly exercises the full extent of its rightful power, that’s still no justification for schism, and it’s certainly a poor reason to disregard the sound theological argument in the papacy’s favor. It seems to me that there’s no realistic and consistent view regarding the development of doctrine which would allow the Orthodox to dismiss the papacy on account of ancient governing policy while simultaneously accepting other advances which they wouldn’t dream of discarding.

Stephen said...

It never ceases to amaze the lengths some westerners will go to defend the Papacy, in spite of the massive evidence that it can be, has been, and is used most especially now as an enemy of tradition (unless you see nothing wrong with the innovations of the Novus Ordo). "Even now Rome has never asked them to say the words in their Creed..." No words capture better and nor re-enforce more easterners' assumption that unity of faith is NOT so important to hyperuberpapalists as unity of administration - in other words, a pure power play, one that undermines the very notion of a "catholic" symbol of faith. There is either a Symbol of Faith that has been good enough for everybody, and remains so today, or there is not. I'm delighted that westerners "finally" walked back the centuries old canard that we easterners "removed" the Filioque from the universally shared symbol of faith, but, that you were all led to believe that tale for centuries on end (I know, I know, how uncouth these Orthodox are for bringing up such unpleasantries, they just define themselves by not liking us, don't they?), what makes you so sure you're not believing other tales that will be later "walked back"? Ah right, I forgot, you've got the Magisterium, topped off with the Pope and Pastor Aeternus to guarantee that that never happens. How silly of me. Down the old memory hole. Somebody call the solicitor and sue George Orwell's estate for plagiarism.

Must I tell myself, then, in order to be intellectually honest and in "full" communion with whomever sits on the Papal throne today (never mind whether or not he professes exactly the same faith as his predecessors, he's got that authority to innovate after all), that I MUST believe in the double procession of the Holy Spirt from the Father and Son, even though I am allowed to NOT say it? Please let me know if this is what you expect (however convoluted), and if this is not the case, what exactly is to be believed, how that is to be expressed, and if gaps exist, how big are they and why do they exist at all.

Archstanton said...

The great irony of Stephen's above comment is that the suppression of the usus antiquior is not and never was an exercise of bare papal power, realistically considered; rather, a sizeable portion of the episcopate necessarily acted as enablers, politically speaking. No serious analysis of the situation could lead one to believe that such an outcome would've transpired had the attitude and behavior of the bishops been different. In fact, it's quite obvious to me that, had the Eastern Patriarchs and bishops remained in communion with the Vicar of Christ rather than acting as schismatics, no Supreme Pontiff would have ever dreamed of enacting such suppression, since the bishops wouldn't have lent sufficient support. [Even monarchs are bound by certain political pressures, after all, so the extent of their rightful authority does not invalidate monarchy.] Even under the motu proprio Traditionis custodes, bishops are able to dispense their flock from its directives in accordance with Canon 87 of the Code of Canon Law, as some bishops indeed have done.

Not to mention, this once again displays the wrongheaded and consequentialist prioritization of Church-governance policy over Ecclesiological orthodoxy. Ecclesiology is sufficient to settle the entire question, so no other considerations ought to be weighed if they pose the risk of blurring our appreciation of the doctrinal considerations relating to Ecclesiology. Pardon me if I'm being uncharitable, but I'm fairly well convinced that's what's going on here.

I could go on, but once again, all of this seems to me as further proof of my suspicion that Eastern Orthodox fears of an overbearing papacy are little more than a cheap subterfuge. I don't mean to be rude, but if they don't like that accusation, then they shouldn't so forcefully give the appearance of it.

pdm said...

To Stephen: the reason why one is permitted to say the Creed in Greek without the filoque is that the verb for 'proceed' has a different nuance in Latin and in Greek. In Greek, if I recall correctly, the verb is ἐκπορευεσθαι (το πνευμα... ἐκπορευομενον...). To say 'and from the Son' with this verb makes it sound as if the Holy Spirit flows from the Father on into the Son and then henceforth into the world. This has a heterodox ring. On the other hand, the Latin procedere does not produce this impression when combined with 'filoque'. This, in fact, is precisely why the Latin inclusion of it, finally accepted into the creed in Rome after centuries of successful anti-Arian use amongst other good and faithful Westerners, seemed so offensive to Easterners. Properly, it is just a gloss on the creed understood as the fathers had always understood it, but with a bit more clarity to preclude Arianism; but in Greek it sounds like an unwarranted development.

Overall then, given the current historical and linguistic situation, whereby Latins have inherited a perfectly good version of the Creed, to change which would be to seem to change doctrine; whereas the Greeks have never had the filoque, nor would it sound right in Greek: in that situation, I say, the same faith can best and rightly be expressed by the Latin and Greek versions respectively with and without the filoque. There's no political fudge here.

If course, if such confusion could arise when the Church was only using two languages, one may wonder whether various similar problems have arisen undetected since the introduction of the vernacular, but that is a separate issue...

Stephen said...

PDM: Your excellent summary highlights the current degree of harmony regarding the theology of the Filioque between west and east, as well as the wide latitude believers have extended to one another over the centuries to let the local Churches deal with local issues, subsidiarity made manifest in the life of the Church. I forget if it was St. Ambrose or St. Augustine who wrote at some length on "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" for travelers to any locale, which is probably why St. Theodore, a Greek transplant/emigre/refugee in England, raised no fuss about the local custom of saying the Filioque in Latin during the Synod of Hatfield, deeming it a solid tool in the local fight against Arianism.

The issue is the manner and method by which the Filioque became more a requirement at the universal level, laden as it was with all sorts of political juice and a turbo-charged claim of Papal authority to justify adding it to the Creed, which was then later amplified only a few generations later when easterners were charged by westerners with innovating by removing it from the Creed. Eastern bishops were well aware of Papal claims dating back to Pope St. Stephen about "none shall judge the Holy See", but these claims were used and abused as political footballs, as all recognized a real power (i.e. not just primacy of honor) unique to Rome, which Orthodox to this day recognize, provided we share the same faith.

Given the now fairly widely accepted appreciation for the Filioque, a strong argument could be made that it is no longer an obstacle to recognizing that we share the same faith, and joins the other such obstacles (beards, celibacy of the lower clergy, leavened or unleavened bread, etc) in the dustbin of things everyone thought were more important than they are. And now, what is also fairly widely accepted, is that the only remaining obstacle is the dogmatic claims of the modern Papacy, their scope and practice. Which, I might add, is the subject of some fairly extensive debate within the western Church (ref. Rite of Paul VI, Traditionis Custodes, etc), so Orthodox can hardly be held to abide by requirements that did not originate with us and with which we were never comfortable, and the nature of which are causing such existential theological, liturgical and ecclesiological strife and strain among Catholics themselves. By its fruit shall ye know the tree, and all that.

Archstanton: Yes, the bishops were enablers, but that's also what we call the abused spouse in an abusive relationship. I don't think that's a hill you want to die on. The justification for the changes were all made and enforced by Papal claims; just look at how Saint(!) Pope Paul VI dealt with Arch. Lefebrvre, and contrast that with how those on the other end of the spectrum were dealt with. And I totally agree that there is no way such innovations would have been endorsed by eastern patriarchs, but then again only the eastern bishops had any memory or history of pushing back against each other (including Rome), as newly Christianized peoples in the western patriarchal territory naturally looked to Rome as teacher and northstar, not as peer. So this, only natural, looking up to Rome was distorted and manipulated by an abuse of natural authority to blind obedience. "Do it, cause that's what the Pope and Vatican II said to." You still see that now as the rationale for the promotion of the Novus Ordo and the suppression of the Old Rite. Orthodox see that not only as completely indefensible, but lethal.

Archstanton said...

[1/3] Stephen criticizes those who defend the papacy, but of course, if orthodox Ecclesiology involves a papacy which is capable of behaving the way Francis does, then there’s really no essential issue with defending it. The real issue is certain attitudes regarding the papacy, which are not defined dogmas of the Church, but which many bishops buy into regardless—the dogmas are not widely debated, the attitudes are. Also, he might as well say: “It never ceases to amaze the lengths some will go to defend the Episcopate, in spite of the massive evidence that it can be, has been, and is used most especially now as an enemy of tradition.” Your analogy of the abused spouse is inapt, if we’re going for historical accuracy. You insinuate that Lefebvre wouldn’t have received such treatment if not for the Pope. Actually, the bishops weren’t simply bullied into conformity by the looming threat of papal revenge, a great many of them were more enthusiastic to see Lefebvre treated this way than the Pope himself. The same goes for the proceedings of the Second Vatican Council and the liturgical innovations which were disingenuously carried out in its name. The fact is that a powerful portion of the Episcopate, egged on in part by the periti, essentially bought into a neo-Modernist attitude and were all too happy to carry out such a program. This condition persists today. Like I said, the bishops wield sufficient political power, and even the proper mindset, to muster substantial political thrust against papal policies they dislike. Far from an abused spouse, look at all the bishops who brazenly refused to conform to the wills of John Paul II and Benedict XVI time and time again, over the course of decades. So the strife experienced in the Church today is not a fruit of legitimate papal power, enshrined by Catholic dogma, but rather of faulty attitudes regarding both the papacy and neo-Modernism.

Next he criticizes Rome for not requiring Easterners to say the Filioque when reciting the Creed. There’s a couple of things to say in response to his contentions here. First he says this is a sign that we value “unity of administration” over unity of faith. Actually, we believe heresy and schism are both damnable, so it hardly makes sense to speak of us as worrying less about the one than the other; and we believe breach from Rome is constitutive of schism, and that heresy likewise separates one from our communion; and we hold both these beliefs as a matter of faith, so how exactly we are regarding [unity of] faith as less important than ecclesiastical communion with the Pope, is not at all clear. In this connection, it’s also necessary to point out that he conveniently cuts Fortescue’s quote short, which continues like so: “…the Uniates do not do so, although, of course, every Catholic must believe what was defined at Florence”—meaning that, Easterners absolutely are required to enter into the unity of our faith. Obviously it makes little sense to speak of something as being valued above that which is required and which is considered necessary for salvation.

Archstanton said...

[2/3] Then Stephen says that to not require Easterners to say the Filioque when reciting the Creed would be to undermine the very notion of a “catholic” symbol of faith. But this simply isn’t so. In Church history, including the ancient era, there have been times where various different creeds and forms of creeds were in use in various different localities, sanctioned by councils, composed by bishops or Patriarchs, derived from ancient baptismal formulæ, etc. There was not always and everywhere in the Church’s domain, before the time of the schism, one form or another of some creed which was simultaneously in actual use across the entire Church. Moreover, the Western Church did not take up the custom of performing the credal recitation during Mass as early as the Eastern Church did. These are matters of liturgical practice, and it’s obviously ridiculous to maintain that catholicity requires absolute uniformity of liturgical practice in all things. What makes a symbol of faith “catholic” is that it is recognized as a valid form accepted by the Church Universal, even if in certain quarters the faithful, owing to liturgical custom or whatever, do not make active use of it. Obviously we would require Easterners to acknowledge the doctrinal legitimacy and liturgical liceity of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed recited with the Filioque as we do in the West, even if they aren’t required to follow suit. And this suffices for its catholicity. The comment left by pdm is also helpful with regard to this question, and I’m glad to agree with Stephen in his appreciation of it. But by the way, Stephen’s remark about having to believe in the double-procession while being free to not “say it” seems muddleheaded to me. Easterners might not have to recite the Creed with the Filioque during the Divine Liturgy, but that doesn’t mean they’re absolutely exempt from the obligation to bear witness to the doctrine of the double-procession, and the same goes for any other doctrine we are required to believe.

Archstanton said...

[3/3] Now Stephen speaks of the “centuries on end” during which “all” Westerners believed that Easterners had removed the Filioque. I’m actually curious to hear exactly which centuries he has in mind. The Popes deliberately refused to give official approbation to the practice of reciting the Creed with the Filioque during Mass, despite political pressure, until the 11th century, and their reason was precisely because they wanted to exercise prudence and caution in authorizing the use of the Filioque in the Creed. In the 13th century, St. Thomas Aquinas frankly acknowledges that the Latins added the Filioque. And that last fact is just off the top of my head, I could probably find theologians writing in the 12th century who made the same acknowledgment. Certainly ever since the time of Aquinas, at least some Catholic theologians have been aware of the fact reported by him, most especially his fellow Dominicans. So when did “all” Westerners believe this story that the East had removed the Filioque from the text of the Creed, and when did this unanimous ignorance “finally” get “walked back?” Or does Stephen merely mean that Westerners claimed the Pope had the right and power to add to the Creed, and henceforth the Easterners were “removing” the Filioque from the Creed by refusing to countenance the papal addition, or some such scenario? Or is Stephen himself perhaps guilty of buying into a “canard,” or of peddling an over-exaggeration, and is it a common misconception among Easterners? And, further, what about Eastern misconceptions that Stephen conveniently does not mention?: for example, that the Easterners have something of an historical track record of accusing Westerners of having no Epiklesis in the Latin liturgy, and a record of doubting the validity of the Latins’ Holy Eucharist for that reason, despite the fact that Westerners do indeed have an Epiklesis in the Latin liturgy. If all this is so, then “what makes you so sure you're not believing other tales that will be later ‘walked back?’”

Then Stephen represents the Papal Magisterium as if Catholics think it guarantees them from falling into any errors whatsoever concerning Church history, which can only lead me to conclude that he either hasn’t done his homework or doesn’t mind misrepresenting the beliefs of people he disagrees with. Well, it’s either that or some really cheap and inappropriate snark. What was that bit I was saying about cartoonishly-exaggerated anti-Catholicism, again?... But seriously, if you resent accusations like the preceding so much, maybe you shouldn’t lump historical Catholic attitudes regarding the complex Filioque controversy as nigh-unanimously Orwellian.

Andrew T said...

Was there really a Council of Hatfield? Where did it meet? Asda?

pdm said...

If I may perhaps 'dial down the tone' a little, I would like to thank Stephen for his charitable reply to me. Furthermore, I think that he makes valid criticisms of the current 'überpapalism' within the Catholic Church. To my mind, it is indeed unhealthy that 98% of Catholics today are Latins, under the direct patriarchal governance of the pope; the situation is a very unbalanced one. Yet I wonder whether Stephen perhaps makes our case for him. For as he implies, the Eastern patriarchs are accustomed to jostling with their fellows. It might therefore have been very helpful if such powerful patriarchs had been present within the Catholic Church, in order to provide a counterweight to Rome's change of the Latin Church's liturgy—a change which, it might be pointed out, could be considered an exercise of the pope's patriarchal jurisdiction over the Latin Church, not of his universal jurisdiction.

This raises a question, which I ask quite genuinely. My impression is that the answer to it is 'yes', but perhaps Stephen can enlighten me. Do the Eastern patriarchs claim and exercise as sweeping and broad an authority over their subordinates as the pope exercises over Latins? Do they, for example, address bishops of their own patriarchates as 'child', not 'brother'? If so, it seems to me that they have little reason, in practice, to complain about the pope's exercise of his power. Probably 98% of any pope's time, after all, is spent on Latin-Church business. And if popes sometimes act tyrannically over the Latin Church, do not Eastern patriarchates sometimes do the same over their own flocks? Isn't that precisely why there is so often jostling between them?

Now, I realize that the the pope, according to Catholic view of him, is an unique position, because he ultimately has a (very rarely exercised) power over other patriarchs. But even so, might not the Catholic Church be far more healthy if the majority of Catholics were not under his patriarchal jurisdiction, but under someone else's? If so, it seems to be that the Orthodox are opening the stable door and then complaining that the horse has bolted.

Stephen said...

Archstanton: 1. Very much appreciate your engagement here, as it shows how vibrant the Filioque remains even after all these years. 2. What is the motive for insisting that westerners "would require Easterners to acknowledge the doctrinal legitimacy and liturgical liceity of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed recited with the Filioque as we do in the West", as you write? Why should that be so important for us now, when it was not important at all, in any way, for the multiple assembled bishops of the fourth century from east and west who promulgated that symbol of faith, and pointedly asked that no modifications be made to it? As much as one could give a nod to the Filioque as a fine anti-Arian tool to be tactically deployed in specific areas of time and space, what is the animus to elevate it to a dogmatic universal requirement, especially in the face of the clear intent of those 4th century bishops assembled in council? 3. Can you see how, whatever this animus or spirit is, it could be related to the same that inspired Bugnini, the Consilium and other progressive clergy and lay, and inspires Pope Francis and his fellow travelers now?

Tony V said...

The Black Mass book…Hmm…

Stephen said...

pdm: Not being a member of the clergy, I can't say from any personal experience, on the day-to-day operational level. Suffice it to say that the top dog everywhere gets first right of refusal for the corner office, the private bathroom, the limo and driver, the first fruit, the deepest red wine, the choicest slice of beef, etc., etc. (which is why we adorn our temples with gold and precious items, denoting who we should hold as top dog). A priest does give his obedience to his ordinary (eastern clergy have a cloth which they spread out on the altar when they celebrate the Divine Liturgy with their bishop's name on it that acts as their authorized passport, as it were, for all faithful to know where any one priest is formally incarnated. Transparency and accountability old school method!), and certainly there can be and has been abuse in the bishop-priest axis. I'll have to check if there is anything liturgically or canonically as strong and relevant among the bishops as exists between a bishop and his clergy. “It seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit” remains the ideal MO, which tells me that, some things – maybe many things – can be changed by subsequent councils, the changeable being changed, but the unchangeable – i.e. that received from the Lord in the deposit of faith, like the hierarchy endowed with great power to bind or to loosen – remains unchanged. I know there continues to be discussion regarding, for example, if the priest is just an extension of his bishop, or endowed with something above and beyond the penumbra of the episcopal ministry.

Further, as in the west, there is nothing sacramental in becoming a metropolitan or patriarch, which in and of themselves are strictly man-made administrative functions arising from the Church growing within the boundaries and framework of the Roman Empire, very important of course as a means for the bishops to work together in this world. Respect is accorded; I as a layman welcome a blessing from any priest by kissing his hand, and our bishops may have, for all I know, some equivalent of kissing the feet of patriarchs, as it is (was?) done in the west by bishops during their ad limina visits to the Pope. And certainly within a liturgical event there are very specific roles and practices re-enforcing hierarchy, such as the kiss of peace, the many elements of the offertory, the movements around the altar, etc., all for good order and clarity. Being endowed with power, these higher administrative offices have attracted men who are more interested in wielding that power for their own sakes and not for that of the Church; and even if everyone in a synod of bishops is a good person, some personalities end up dominating others, but there is no enshrinement of the power levels in anything dogmatic, only in praxis liturgically (so, in service) from what I've experienced. Depending on a lot of variables related to human nature and human organizations, we certainly have seen a lot good and bad, and I can expect only more of the same. Even now, as you know, strong personalities sit in the Chairs of Constantinople and Moscow, and butt heads, and make claims based on this antiquity of praxis or that conciliar proclamation, which may or may not be recognized by others ever, or may be by some over here this year but nobody over there next year; and these Patriarchs are elected via processes which are influenced by many pressures within and without the Church, so there is a lot of wheat and chaff, but again, nothing enshrined anything as dogma vis a vis the relationships among bishops.

Fr Edward said...

Things that consume fuel, whatever they be; hedgehogs, cars, porridge pots or daffodils, consume it according to the mechanics best developed to suit its need. You can't feed the hedgehog's worms into your fuel tank and expect anything exciting. Likewise with Churches and Ecclesial Communities; it is pretty useless trying to feed Roman Catholics with St Gregory Palamas, because on the whole there just isn't the plumbing to understand and assimilate it organically with that which is already established. Gears crunch, smoke bellows, and at best this happens: Fr O'Brien grows his whiskers long, the more genteel of his parishioners make an icon corner in their homes, and the in-crowd buy that rather cloying Greek incense at a CofE shoppe at Walsingham. Or there is this: you either stop reading the Eastern Fathers, or become an Orthodox.

Really and truly, I'm not sure there are many other choices, if you play it through to the end.

pdm said...

I thank Stephen for his interesting reply to me.