21 February 2017


During the Stalinist era, the Moskow Patriarchate was complicit in the persecution, even martyrdom, of Catholic Ukrainians. It would be nice if, instead of resenting the resurrection of the heroic and ancient Church of Ukraine, Moskow could express some penitence for a period of its history when it appeared very willing to benefit from the oppression of the Ukrainian Church and even from the genocidal famine which Stalinism unleashed upon the Ukrainians.

Moreover, I have a lot of sympathy for the wish of Russian Orthodox that Latin Christianity should not proselytise in the Canonical Territitory of the Moskow Patriarchate. I know that some readers will disagree with this, but I would wish that Orthodoxy be supported in its desire to be the Church of the Russian people. But a real solution to this group of problems would need examination of the mirror-image problem: the existence of (several!) Orthodox jurisdictions within the Canonical Territory of the Roman "Patriarchate". Or is the "Patriarchate" of Rome a virgin area in partibus infidelium and available as sort of free-for-all for Orthodox to missionise? The recent Great and Holy Council and the fierce wrangling which has followed it suggest that the status of the Roman "Patriarchate" is a profound source of dissension within and between Orthodox.

During the Inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI, while the Holy Gospel was being sung in Greek, a considerable number of the Orthodox present turned away. I can only suspect that they were so anxious to show (before the world media) disrespect to the "uniate" deacon singing it that they were also willing to show disrespect to the Incarnate Word solemnly proclaimed. I suspect - I don't know how to check this - that the deacon concerned may have been associated with the Abbey of Grottaferatta near Rome in the Alban hills; founded by S Nilus in 1004 and for more than a millennium an oasis of Hellenic Christianity in the heart of the West and never out of communion with the See of Rome. A foundation which survived more successfully than the Latin religious communities which were in Constantinople and on Athos before 1054.

If this were so, it would make that action even more unpleasant.


Titus said...

My impression has certainly been that "not being Roman" has become one of the primary defining features of Orthodoxy. The more amenable and open to accommodation the West becomes, the more intransigent and insistent upon finding something over which to fight the Orthodox become in turn. I'm sure there are plenty of curial bureaucrats who willfully snub oriental Christians of all stripes and complicate matters, but the Orthodox do sometimes have a bit of the dwarves in the stable about them.

E sapelion said...

Very regrettable, but only about 60 years ago we received special permission to attend the baptism of a cousin by the Anglican church strictly on condition that we did no more than stand there without participating by word or gesture.

Deacon Nicholas said...

Well, different churches indeed have their "defining features"--some of them authentic to the faith, many not. I'm not one of those Orthodox who take an instant dislike to Roman Catholics (it's said to save time) because I know we have many great shortcomings. Being "amenable and open to accommodation" is not one of them, OK. But we don't simply "find something over which to fight"--those things of yours, including an unacceptable ecclesiology, have been around for centuries, and actually we've been pretty consistent in our responses.

Anonymous said...

Great post Father!

Patrick Sheridan said...

While I tend to agree with the turning away by those bishops, father, it would have been more fitting if they had simply declined to turn up. I'm sure they were only constrained to go by the all-pervading heresy of ecumenism, which forces us all to pay lip service to each other and to set at naught centuries of rancour and bitterness. I hate it with a profound hatred.

I re-watched the Greek Gospel proclamation at Benedict XVI's inauguration, inspired to do so by this post. Of course, I watched it at the time but I didn't (in 2005) see the significance of the turning away, or I just didn't notice it. And if indeed the deacon came from Grottaferatta, of which Dr Fortescue always spoke so warmly, a putative oasis of Hellenic Christianity in the howling wilderness of the Latins, I marvel that the man had no actual beard. Uniates tend to be contemptuous of beards. Bessarion's impressive beard cost him the see of Rome, or so I read.

√Čamonn said...

I once commented to a priest that I found the recurring need to kvetch about Catholics very irritating when I read the prison memoir of Fr. Arseny. His response was that hatred of Catholics was the only thing holding the Orthodox together. I thought this a little harsh but it turns out that his view was formed as a graduate student in St Vladimir's in New York.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"the existence of (several!) Orthodox jurisdictions within the Canonical Territory of the Roman "Patriarchate". Or is the "Patriarchate" of Rome a virgin area in partibus infidelium and available as sort of free-for-all for Orthodox to missionise?"

As a revert from Orthodoxy, I'd say some regard it so.

The Sigillikon of 15-hundred so and so which condemned Trent also condemned baptism by anything other than three full immersions.

This means conservative Orthodox may regard our baptism and consequently our other sacraments as unvalid.