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Orthodoxy and Catholicism
11-04-2008, 11:30 AM,
A Russian view of Papal Primacy
Rather than start a fresh 'conversation' thread, I thought I would revive this one since it bears on the nature of the Petrine Primacy claimed by Rome. The following quotation from Soloviev's, Russia and the Universal Church is of interest here.
Quote:This pseudo-Orthodoxy of our theological schools, which has nothing in common with the faith of the universal Church or the piety of the Russian people, contains no positive element; it consists merely of arbitrary negations produced and maintained by controversial prejudice:

"God the Son does not contribute in the divine order to the procession of the Holy Spirit."

"The Blessed Virgin was not immaculate from the first moment of her existence."'

"Primacy of jurisdiction does not belong to the See of Rome and the pope has not the dogmatic authority of a pastor and doctor of the universal Church."

Such are the principal negations which we shall have to examine in due course. For our present purpose it is enough to observe in the first place that these negations have received no sort of religious sanction, and do not rest on any ecclesiastical authority accepted by all the Orthodox as binding and infallible. No ecumenical council has condemned or even passed judgment on the Catholic doctrines anathematized by our controversialists; and when we are offered this new kind of negative theology as the true doctrine of the universal Church, we can see in it only an extravagant imposture originating either in ignorance or in bad faith.

In the second place, it is obvious that this false Orthodoxy is no more adequate than true Orthodoxy as a positive basis for the "Russian idea." Let us try to substitute real values for this unknown quantity called "Orthodoxy" over which a pseudo-patriotic press is always working up an artificial enthusiasm. According to you, the ideal essence of Russia is Orthodoxy, and this Orthodoxy which you especially contrast with Catholicism amounts in your view simply to the divergences between the two professions of faith. The real religious basis which is common to us and the Westerns seems to have no more than a secondary interest for you; it is the differences between us to which you are really attached. Very well, then, substitute these specific differences for the vague term "Orthodoxy" and declare openly that the religious ideal of Russia consists in denying the Filioque, the Immaculate Conception, and the authority of the pope.

It is the last point that you are chiefly concerned with. The others, you know well, are only pretexts; the sovereign pontiff is your real bugbear. Essentially, all your "Orthodoxy," all your "Russian idea" amounts to, then, is simply a national protest against the universal power of the pope. But in the name of what?

Here begins the real difficulty of your position. This bitter protest against the monarchy of the Church, if it is to win men's minds and hearts, should be justified by some great positive principle. You should confront the form of theocratic government of which you disapprove with another and better form. And that is exactly what you cannot do. What kind of ecclesiastical constitution would you confer upon the Western peoples? Are you going to extol conciliar government and talk to them of ecumenical councils? Medice, *** teipsum ["Physician, heal yourself"] (Luke 4:23). Why has not the East set up a true ecumenical council in opposition to those of Trent or the Vatican? How are we to explain this helpless silence on the part of truth when faced with the solemn self-assertion of error? Since when have the guardians of Orthodoxy become mean-spirited curs that can only bark from behind a wall?

In point of fact, while the great assemblies of the Church continue to fill a prominent place in the teaching and life of Catholicism, it is the Christian East which has for a thousand years been deprived of this important feature of the universal Church, and our best theologians, such as Philaret of Moscow, themselves admit that an ecumenical council is impossible for the Eastern church as long as she remains separated from the West. But it is the easiest thing in the world for our self-styled Orthodox to confront the actual councils of the Catholic Church with a council that can never take place, and to maintain their cause with weapons that they have lost and under a flag of which they have been robbed.

The papacy is a positive principle, an actual institution, and if Eastern Christians believe this principle to be false and this institution to be evil, it is for them to create the organization which they desire to see in the Church. Instead of doing so, they refer us to antiquarian traditions, though they admit that they can I have no relevance to the present situation. Our anti-Catholics have good reason indeed for going so far afield in search of support for their thesis; the fact is that they dare not expose themselves to the ridicule of the whole world by declaring the Synod of St. Petersburg or the Patriarchate of Constantinople to be really representative of the universal Church. But how can they talk of appealing after all this time to ecumenical councils when they are obliged to admit that they are no longer feasible? Such beating of the air is only a complete revelation of the weakness of this anti-Catholic Orthodoxy. If the normal organization and proper constitution of the universal Church requires ecumenical councils, it is obvious that the Orthodox East, fatally deprived of this essential organ of church life, possesses no longer a true church constitution or regular church government.

During the first three centuries of Christianity, the Church cemented by the blood of the martyrs, convoked no worldwide councils because she had no need of them; the Eastern church today, paralyzed and dismembered, is unable to convoke them though she feels her need of them. Thus we are placed in a dilemma: either we must admit, with our extreme sectarians, since a certain date the Church has lost her divine character and no longer actually exists upon earth; or else, to avoid so dangerous a conclusion, we must recognize that the universal Church, having no organs of government or representation in the East, possesses them in her Western half.

In his post above, Fr. Gregory brings his usual acuteness to bear on this question, and I would commend what he says to those starting here. But he also says, inter alia that:

Quote:Unfortunately, the jurisdictional chaos and scandal (and I would probably say, heresy) which infests modern Orthodoxy with multiple bishops, and multiple churches, claiming jurisdiction in the same places, in direct violation of the ancient Canons, makes any definition of ?local church? very difficult.
Is that the inevitable result of our failure do what Soloviev says here:
Quote:create the organization which they desire to see in the Church

Any way, food for thought and discussion perhaps?

In Christ,

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

Messages In This Thread
Orthodoxy and Catholicism - John Charmley - 01-01-2008, 01:01 PM
[] - Fr Gregory - 01-01-2008, 08:30 PM
[] - John Charmley - 02-01-2008, 12:19 PM
orthodoxy and catholicism - kirk yacoub - 03-01-2008, 10:15 AM
[] - John Charmley - 03-01-2008, 12:41 PM
orthodoxy and catholicism - kirk yacoub - 18-01-2008, 09:40 AM
[] - John Charmley - 22-01-2008, 10:33 PM
orthodoxy and catholicism - kirk yacoub - 24-01-2008, 09:37 AM
[] - John Charmley - 25-01-2008, 10:44 AM
orthodoxy and catholicism - kirk yacoub - 28-01-2008, 09:49 AM
[] - John Charmley - 28-01-2008, 03:16 PM
A Russian view of Papal Primacy - John Charmley - 11-04-2008, 11:30 AM

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