11 June 2019


I share the view that we should look at a broader background than Unitatis Redintegratio of Vatican II, considered in isolation, if we desire a Catholic and 'Traditional' account of "Ecumenism". The following roughs out some lines of thought which I have been considering, based upon evidence. (I am not really interested in opinions which are evidentially unbased.) Please regard it as inchoate; please understand that it is intended less to assert than to ask. But please do not answer if all you have to offer are your own strong views about what the situation ought to be.

The Roman See has not always treated Oriental groups seeking Full Communion as if they were merely groups of individual schismatics some of whom happened to possess technically 'valid' Orders. The Oriental bishops at Florence were, surely, treated as having real status as Patriarchs and Bishops. As late as Vatican I, dissident Oriental bishops were sent invitations to the Council*. When the Melkite Patriarchate of Antioch regularised its position with Rome in the early 18th century, I know no evidence that its hierarchy was granted jurisdiction. Benedict XIV (Demandatam caelitus) assured Cyril VI and his bishops: "We have no other intention ... but that the due obedience of your people and your authority and jurisdiction over them shall be kept whole and entire ... We wish all the rights, privileges, and free jurisdiction of Your Fraternities to remain intact". Indeed, there is evidence that, in the period before the definitive restoration  of Full Communion, Jesuits working within the Patriarchate of Antioch had treated all Melkite bishops as the local Ordinaries.

Perhaps surprisingly, even the 1917 Code of Canon Law ... yes, I did say 1917 ... permitted the faithful to seek the Sacraments from an excommunicate minister "ex qualibet iusta causa" (i.e. not necessarily even "ex gravi causa"; vide 2261 para 2). In the first part of the twentieth century, Latin theologians advanced differing interpretations of the de facto acceptance by Rome of jurisdiction (for example, to absolve) within Orthodox communities (at the end of Lumen Gentium, among the Notificationes appended by the Docrinal Commission, we find an admission that "variae exstant sententiae" among theologians "quod attinet ad potestatem quae de facto apud Orientales seiunctos exercetur".) It would be difficult to sustain a claim that, according to Catholic Tradition, ecclesiastical jurisdiction only authentically exists in full canonical unity with the See of Rome.

With regard to the Churches of Kiev and Moskow, the fabulously erudite Benedictine Orientalist Jean-Baptiste-Francois Pitra, Cardinal Bishop of Frascati and Archivist of the Holy Roman Church, took the view that the separation between Rome and Moskow was neither juridical nor formal; a view shared not only by the maverick Russian Orthodox lay theologian Vladimir Soloviev but also, significantly, by the great Ukrainian Greek Catholic Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky. Metropolitan Andrew was what the early Latin Christians called a Confessor: one who witnessed to Christ with the offer of his life but was never called to shed his blood. During the course of his heroic life, in which he saw the insides of many prisons, he was an indefatigable worker, not only for his own flock, but also for the unity of all Christians of the Byzantine Rite with the See of S Peter. He dealt with Russian Orthodox in ways that accorded ill with the views of some tidy-minded Latins. There survives a printed document copies of which he presumably handed out to Ukrainian Confessors ...

I shall deal with it, Deo volente, in a day or two's time.
*Bishop C Butler wrote "It is possible to argue, and has been argued from the Roman Catholic side, that 'schism' was never formally consummated between these two great communions".

Benedict XIV reminded us, in general terms, that we cannot definitively deny the propriety of any sacramental sharing, because the Catholic Church grants dispensations for mixed marriages ... in which, according to Western theology, the two ministers of the Sacrament belong to different communions.


STARK said...

I have heard that the meaning of the word ‘ecumenical’, used by the Church from the beginning and ending with the Ecumenical Council of Vatcan I, is derived from the Greek word oikoumenik√≥s - it’s meaning by the Church being ‘of the house’. Furthermore, all the ecumenical councils pre-Vatican II were based on correcting error and/or teaching doctrinal truths that all Christians ‘within the house’ of the Holy Roman Church must believe. The Church spoke, admonished and taught those people within the household, not to those outside it.

If the meaning of the word ecumenical has indeed been altered, as have many other words, it was done oftentimes inorganically to cloak the change so that most would not notice. Today the word ecumenical has many connotations (ill defined at best) that would have been unthinkable in the past. Words like openness, dialogue, encounter, etc. The old meaning of ecumenical is no longer ‘ecumenically correct’ and must be shunned.

We must be able to discuss ideas with words that are well defined and understood as the Church has understood them. Otherwise we are living out the double plus good ecumenical Orwellian distopia that other people have shaped/directed our minds to blindly accept. It is a roadmap used by evil men for all time to enslave us inside small minded thinking.

To the point made “In the first part of the twentieth century, Latin theologians advanced differing interpretations of the de facto acceptance by Rome of jurisdictions” I need to ask, what has the Church and Tradition always held regarding this matter? It matters not what theologians have believed. What matters is what the Church has always taught or believed up to the point in question.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. There is this to consider also:


40. And when We later addressed to you the letter Ad Sinarum gentem, We again referred to this teaching in these words: The power of jurisdiction which is conferred directly by divine right on the Supreme Pontiff comes to bishops by that same right, but only through the successor of Peter, to whom not only the faithful but also all bishops are bound to be constantly subject and to adhere both by the reverence of obedience and by the bond of unity."

Acts requiring the power of Holy Orders which are performed by ecclesiastics of this kind, though they are valid as long as the consecration conferred on them was valid, are yet gravely illicit, that is, criminal and sacrilegious.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

There is also Professor Lina Murr-Nehme, who holds that there was never a legal schism, even after the fall of Constantinople: "Constantinople 1453: Mohammed II Imposes the Orthodox Schism". The act of "schism" was null and void, according to Prof M-N.


Fr PJM said...

But, ABS, what Fr H has cited perhaps suggests that this applies to fresh, new *FORMAL* schismatics, such as Pope Pius XII was facing in China in his time. Is it really the position, has it always been the position of the Holy See that each and every Sacrament of the Orthodox is a sacrilege? For that matter, their preaching during the Divine Liturgy --preaching requires jurisdiction-- would be gravely wrong.
Must we force Fr H to again cite the faculties given by Pope St Pius X which did *not* require the renununciation of formal schism, etc.

Fr PJM said...

The Catholic Church, it seems, implicitly and tacitly, but really has never withdrawn jurisdiction from Orthodox absolutions and, explicitly, marriages.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear F PJM When it comes to knowledge about what he is considering, Fr H is the sun and ABS is a flint strike but, trying to not sound as noisy as a Honda being driven by a Millennial, ABS would say that what Fr. H references can be understood to resonate with the claims of authority asserted in Ad Sinarum gentem.

Fr PJM said...

Dear ABS, I accept and embrace the dogma of universal, supreme (but not absolute!) jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff. I think that the issue is the "imperfect" or incomplete schism of the East, as opposed to such a clean break as the Anglicans or the Chinese Commies.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Fr. You are a George Herbert Walker Bush type of priest in temperament - Kinder and gentler - whereas ABS is one who thinks that the schismatic heretics of the east have rather perfected their schism and as for the breathing with two lungs that Dear Father Hunwicke cited (in another post) the Catholic Church has always had two lungs and it would be a grave error for the Catholic Church to accept the schismatic east en bloc because that would be like, unwisely, transplanting a third lung into the body - a seriously diseased lung - into an already weak body.

Because this opinion is susceptible to being considered churlish, ABS adds he does agree with the problem of latinisation etc (so excellently addressed in, "The Banished Heart') but The Catholic Church has to heal its own weakened health before adding another malign malady to it.

Fr PJM said...

This makes me think of J. H. Newman's harsh remark, in one of his letters, on corporate reunion between the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church: "Why would a living body want to be joined to a dead body?" He also remarked that good in the Anglican Church comes from the members (the Holy Ghost acting within them in His mercy) but no Catholic who was in his right mind would say: "I make the Church better"; he would properly say that all his supernatural good comes from and through the Church.