8 October 2016


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, 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, I 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 comminion with the Holy See. I would even favour a cautious re-examination of Markos Eugenikos. It would make a pleasant change from hearing Marx and Bergoglio prosing on about the wonders of Luther!

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'; 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 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, have very little interest in anything outside their own internal squabbles.

But, however abruptly they disown us, 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 silly and impulsive Gestepolitik of the current pontificate.


erick said...

Fr Hunwicke, could you briefly explain why you think it would be proper to have Mark of Ephesus and Gregory Palamas venerated by the Catholic Church?

Cherub said...

Amen, amen, and amen.

Banshee said...

It's a little late for "should." St. Gregory Palamas is venerated by the Catholic Church. He isn't on every calendar; but neither was St. Patrick until the 16th century or so. Was St. Patrick somehow not a saint until he showed up on the Universal Calendar? No, he was already a saint and remained one.

Any official Catholic calendar of saints in any Rite, counts.

There's a long post about St. Gregory Palamas' Catholic veneration here:

"Some post-1054 saints common to Orthodox and Catholic calendars were, in fact, in communion with the Apostolic See, such as many 11th- and 12th-century holy monks from Kiev. Many were probably never posed the question “for or against Rome?” We may well think that they took unity with Rome for granted.

"Any other saints who are known to have expressed anti-Catholic sentiments (and were guilty of formal schism and formal heresy) must have repented before they died.

"... +Josyf Cardinal Slipyj the Confessor of blessed memory convinced +Francis Cardinal Seper of happy memory that St. Gregory Palamas died in the odor of sanctity and that the mystical theology of St. Gregory Palamas is indispensable to the Eastern Catholic tradition and Eastern Catholic piety, rather than antithetical to Catholic theology. Since the learned Cardinal +Slipyj was unfailingly loyal to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, he must have had reliable evidence leading to moral certainty that St. Gregory abandoned his schismatic, anti-Filioque, anti-papacy stances before he died, or else Palamas could not be a saint,{6} since he had, for a time, knowingly and deliberately rejected the Catholic dogma of Filioque.{7} While this might not seem plausible to the Orthodox, I trust in the scholarship of righteous Cardinal +Slipyj and the acceptance of his findings by the Magisterium...

"The formal restoration seems to be a case of equivalent (not formal) canonization."

William Tighe said...

I can see commemorating Gregory Palamas (as well as Patriarch Photius - who died, after all, in communion with Rome) but Mark of Ephesus?

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Should we venerate Palamas?


The dropping of the Filoque by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger is additional evidence that Ecumenism is the Universal Solvent of Tradition