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Archive for the ‘Eastern Orthodoxy’ Category

I think this was more then symbol over substance here. 100 years ago the idea of the Pope & the Ecumenical Patriarch praying together [in latin no less] would be impossible. The Catholic Herald has a solid reivew of the event.

“Orthodoxy,” he said, “was the common responsibility and obligation of all.”

He said, the liturgy – a communal celebration – was the place where the community learned, expressed and strengthened its faith. “Whereas the gradual development in the West of a juridical source of authority led to an understanding of liturgical rites more as external signs, Eastern Christianity visualised liturgy as an authoritative criterion of faith and ethics”, seen, for example, in the practice of quoting liturgical texts in support of a theological argument, he said.

I think this is an excellent point. Although I think perhaps the reformation may have had a hand in this practice in that Catholics would not refer to liturgical texts in support of Catholic positions because it would be dismissed out of hand. Perhaps thats someting to reconsider.

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Kosovo: Vatican remains prudent

Thanks to babel fish for translating this from Italian into English. The international mission of the church state craft, which is to provide for freedom of access for the churches mission of the Gospel and ability to chose it’s own bishops rather then state imposed or chose ones. However IMO the church is best served to stay out of this one as much as possible. Speak to preservation of life & holy sites and avoid who maintains or retakes power there.

It is true that independence of the Kosovo is an acquired data for the majority of Europe, but the Vatican thinks of having however to maintain a precaution line and, seems to understand, remains long the times for an acknowledgment of Pristina. Beyond to the worries on the procedures of the international right, in fact, the Sede Saint cannot not hold account of ‘ ‘ the fears of the serbi’ ‘, inasmuch as in Kosovo the Serbian orthodox church has the own one ‘ ‘ culla’ ‘. These things have been explained from cardinal Walter Kasper, than like president of ‘ ‘ the ministry of the Pope for the dialogue between cristiani’ ‘ it has been interpellato from the journalists on the worries of the patriarch of Moscow Alessio II for independence kosovara and on eventual repercussions of this event on the orthodox relationships between, not only Russian, and catholics. ‘ ‘ the Vatican – it has remembered the German porporato one – has not said nothing on the acknowledgment of the Kosovo and still waits for; to the end the great European nations orient themselves for the acknowledgment, will look at what will make the Sede Saint in the next one futuro’ ‘. The porporato one has remembered that the Sede Saint ‘ ‘ comprises the worries of the Serbs because the Kosovo is the crib of the Serbian orthodox church and comprises the caused suffering they gives the abandonment of the Kosovo’ ‘. All this, has explained Kasper, has been made present to the Serbian ambassador near the Saint Sede, Vladeta Jankovic, received from the Pope 21 February, hardly four days after the proclamation of independence from part of Pristina. The Vatican seems therefore taken care not to repeat “the error completed in the ‘ 91” with the hurried acknowledgment of the secessione of Croatia and Slovenia from the Yugoslavia, that it provoked to the temporary breach of the religious relationships with the orthodox world and the accusation to have contributed to prime the Balkan ethnic conflict

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Many Protestant communions have issues with giving adherence to the traditional Creeds. Creeds bind individual believers to a formal expression of Scriptural truths. Creeds were created to eliminate gray areas which lead to false understandings of eternal truths. Many would view Creeds as intolerant. Especially in this politically correct world, Creeds can be somewhat insensitive to those who would rather hold positions that allow both orthodox and heretical views.

Indeed, Creeds are designed to be just that- intolerant, insensitive, unforgiving. For a Creed defines the boundary with which the enemy Satan is not permitted to enter, nor any of his followers. Heresy is a half truth at best and provides a false sense of security which brings spiritual destruction and in some case physical destruction on a wide scale throughout history. So while Creeds seem to turn on points of scriptural, philosophy & ecclesiastical concerns which they do; they make their mark by sealing literally with the blood of thousands of martyrs as to what is truth.

Christology is the discipline in theology for the study of the Person of Jesus Christ. Since Christ is the basis of belief for all Christians, it is critical to understand who Christ is and who He isn’t; since our belief and salvation are dependent upon Him.

Many of the early church heresies turn on either Christ’s personhood or His natures (Divine & Human). It should be noted that many of these heresies were based on a misunderstanding of scripture and in defense against some other heresy, yet the defense formed to refute a given heresy & supporting a true belief in Christ turned out to be heretical as well.

Today we have many Christians who possess an uninformed or ill formed view of Christ. And like heresies of old these are simply remakes of their older heretical versions. Perhaps the greatest of these today is Nestorianism. This is the belief that Christ has two natures and two persons(human & Divine). Now the reformers would never profess two persons in Christ, however, those who came after them, that have discarded the creeds over the centuries are not generally aware of this dogma nor the history and sacrifice of saints who died for these truths.

Protestants have some motivation for supporting this heresy. Catholicism affirms that Mary is the Mother of God. Various cultures that have significant numbers of Catholics have developed traditions which celebrate this truth of the church and of course the prayer “Hail Mary” also contains this phrase as well. In reaction to this display of honoring Jesus and His mother, Protestants have felt the need over the centuries to counteract this piety, which seems excessively focused on Mary. Part of this is simply because Protestants are not familiar with the theological distinctions about giving honor to a person and for that matter most Catholics haven’t been taught it and don’t understand it either. The average Catholic does not know or likely heard about Latria (worship given to God alone) and Hyperdulia & Dulia (honor given to Mary and honor given to Saints respectfully). The majority of Catholic do however understand that they are not to worship Mary, but likely are not able to explain the process. Hence, the Protestants concern with whether the Catholic is honoring Mary or worshiping her. We must also remember that external actions do not necessarily relay what is going on in the believers mind and spirit. I think a strong reminder once a year from the pulpit on reflecting what these theological categories mean would be helpful.

Those who reconcile with the Catholic church coming from one of the Protestant confessions many times have difficulty with this dogma. However, if one keeps the Creed in mind and why those at the Third Ecumenical Council (Ephesus)
rejected Nestorianism would be beneficial.

In their zeal to defend against a perceived false worship of Mary, some will reject that Mary is the Mother of God. The individual will attempt to apply logic and state that if Mary is the Mother of God that she must be Divine herself in order to give birth to a Divine person. Such reasoning is false because Christ is one Person – not two. Christ has two natures, but once the Protestant attempts to separate the Incarnation of Divine and Human natures they are forced to falsely create two Persons of Christ (one human and one Divine). This destroys the Trinity and creates 4 person in one God.

Given the utter victory of the church in defining the Trinity, this should make any Christian recoil from this type of  reasoning. Yet if they still are unable to accept Mary as Mother of God and they recognize that God is a Trinity there is a host of other heresies waiting for the believer.

Docetists- Christ appeared to have a real human body, but actually was an ethereal being much like an angel. It derives its name from the Greek, dokein, “to seem, to appear.”

Next is Ebionism who rejected the teachings of Paul and emphasized the importance of the law of Moses. Generally, they regarded Jesus as a divinely inspired prophet but not as God.

Valentinianism, Monarchianism, Sabellianism/Modalists all had there respective day in the Sun. St. Epiphanius writes about them:

“Their doctrine is, that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one and the same being, in the sense that three names are attached to the one substance. A close analogy may be found in the body, soul and spirit of man. The body as it were the Father: the soul as the Son ; while the Spirit is to the Godhead as his spirit is to a man. Or take the sun: it is one substance, but it has three manifestations, light , heat and the orb itself. The heat…( is analogous to) the Spirit; the light to the Son; while the Father himself is represented as the actual substance. The Son was at one time emitted, like a ray of light; he accomplished in the world all that pertained to the dispensation of the Gospel and man’s salvation, and was taken back into heaven , as a ray is emitted by the sun and then withdrawn again into the sun.”(Epiphanius Bishop of Salamis 375 AD. Adv. hareses Ixii.1)

If this theological position rings a bell, it’s likely that you know or where at one time a Oneness Pentecostal for they are anti-Trinitarians holding to the belief that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one God and one Person.

Adoptionism is where Christ is/was created by generation and nature, and became divine by adoption and grace as an adult. Arians which was created by Arius a presbyter of the Alexandria church in the 4th century taught Christ was not God like the Father, but a creature made in time. Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses hold similar beliefs.

Eutycheanism/Monophysites– archimandrite of Constantinople held that Christ is One person and One nature.

Therefore, following the holy Fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance (homoousious) with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer (Theotokos); one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the Fathers has handed down to us.

This is called the Definition of Chalcedon.

Note that there is a great balance between the two heretical positions of One Person & One nature on the one hand and two persons and two natures on the other.

Christians rightly think of Jesus as God and hence many of us tend to think of Him in exclusively Divine concepts. However Jesus is fully human in nature and therefore we should also realize that He sanctifies us by and through His Incarnation. Eastern Orthodoxy has a wonderful saying that all that Jesus touches is redeemed.

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Perhaps its the internet or more specifically the blogs that I read weekly, but over the past 3 years or so there seems to be a concerted effort in some quarters to reclaim(from their viewpoint) the term “Catholic”.  As a Catholic myself I have some problems with them doing so; their claim is that one can be “Catholic” without formally being a member of that communion. Indeed, they are members of the Catholic Church, but only informally as the Catholic church proclaims based on their membership in the body of Christ. Some individuals however have taken an additional step and chosen to alter IMO the meaning of the term, so that they may in fact reject some or a number of doctrinal and/or dogma definitions and would claim the title to Catholic and that those of us in communion with Rome are historically wrong in these positions, which in any-ones church language is referred to as heresy. Nothing wrong with that, it’s good for dialog for all parties to take a stand on what they believe is true. While it creates conflict, if the parties are concerned about the truth, then there is no inherent problem in having conflicting positions. Of course, traditionally Catholics have define these individuals as heretics or schismatics themselves. Which brings us to the issue – What does “Catholic” mean from the historical aspect in the Christian era?

I’m not a scholar, but experts will agree that the Greek word “katholikos”means universal, generally from kata (by) + holos(whole). The primary sources are pretty easy to gather together for the first 200 years since the pool of material is very limited. But after that it grows substantially. In selecting my material I attempted to draw from the first three periods of the church (Apostolic Father, the pre-Nicene, & Nicene fathers) as well as the first 5 centuries from the three primary geographic regions of the Christianity(Africa, the west & the east) as it existed back then and from both Latin and Greek fathers.

Please consider everything after 200 A.D. as a sample of available texts, hopefully it’s  a representative one, but I admit that I have my biases as well. I welcome any-ones input for primary sources that they feel would add to that which is already here. I was deliberate in trying to avoid texts that historically been use to justify papal claims. To some extent it was unavoidable to do so, since there is a linkage between both issues, but the papacy is secondary to this broader topic.

I will list the primary sources first, then reference back to them with my analysis after, so the reader will get a chance to absorb the material without to much bias input on my part other then the selection of text and the bolding and underlining as to it’s importance to my position. Anyone who has read even a limited amount of the church fathers will recognize these passages a  glance, so there isn’t any obscure quote that can’t be found on a number of internet sites for broader context.

The first preserved written use in the Christian tradition of the term “Catholic” about 105 A.D by St. Ignatius of Antioch(Greek):

ignatius.jpg1)See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. .It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid. St Ignatius of Antioch to the Smyrneans

TheMartyrdom of St. Polycarp around 155A.D. (Greek)

polycarp.jpg

2)The Church of God which sojourns at Smyrna, to the Church of God sojourning in Philomelium and to all the congregations of the Holy and Catholic Church in every place: Mercy, peace, and love from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, be multiplied.

Polycarp was one, having in our own times been an apostolic and prophetic teacher, and bishop of the Catholic Church which is in Smyrna Chapter XVI

For, having through patience overcome the unjust governor, and thus acquired the crown of immortality, he now, with the apostles and all the righteous [in heaven], rejoicingly glorifies God, even the Father, and blesses our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of our souls, the Governor of our bodies, and the Shepherd of the Catholic Church throughout the world Chapter XIX

We move now to St. Irenaeus of Lyon (Greek) – Against Heresies, book 3 (180 A.D.) For this discussion we can ignore what St. Irenaeus means by authority.

200px-saint_irenaeus.jpg3) For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church{that is the church of Rome}, on account of its pre- eminent authority,that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolic tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere. Chapter III paragraph 2.

The truth is to be found nowhere else but in the Catholic Church, the sole depository of  apostolical doctrine. Heresies are of recent formation, and cannot trace their origin up to the apostles. Chapter IV

Note: St. Irenaeus famous passage has been used unmercifully by Catholic apologists to bludgeon our fellow Anglicans and Orthodox alike on the topic of papal primacy. That is not the focus of this issue.

Tertullian(African/Latin) (from his Catholic period 200 A.D.)  

4)Where was Marcion then, that shipmaster of Pontus the zealous student of Stoicism? Where was Valentinus then, the disciple of Platonism? For it is evident that those men lived not so long ago,—in the reign of Antoninus for the most part, and that they at first were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in the church of Rome under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus until on account of their ever restless curiosity, with which they even infected the brethren, they were more than once expelled. Prescription against Heretics – Chapter 30

St. Cyprian(African/Latin) to Antonianus – 252 A.D.

150px-stcyprian.jpg5)Cyprian to Antonianus his brother, greeting. I received your first letters, dearest brother, firmly maintaining the concord of the priestly college, and adhering to the Catholic Church, in which you intimated that you did not hold communion with Novatian, but followed my advice, and held one common agreement with Cornelius our co-bishop. You wrote, moreover, for me to transmit a copy of those same letters to Cornelius our colleague, so that he might lay aside all anxiety, and know at once that you held communion with him, that is, with the Catholic Church. Epistle 51

First Ecumenical Council in 325 A.D – (only 5 western/latin bishops represented of the 318 total)

180px-nicaea_icon.jpg6) We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father. By whom all things were made, both which be in heaven and in earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down [from heaven] and was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and the third day he rose again, and ascended into heaven. And he shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead. And [we believe] in the Holy Ghost. And whosoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not, or that before he was begotten he was not, or that he was made of things that were not, or that he is of a different substance or essence [from the Father] or that he is a creature, or subject to change or conversion–all that so say, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them. Nicene Creed

St. Cyril of Jerusalem Catechism – 347 A.D. (Greek)

st-cyril-of-jerusalem.jpg7) 22. The Faithwhich we rehearse contains in order the following, And in one Baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; and in one Holy Catholic Church; and in the resurrection of the flesh; and in eternal life.” Now of Baptism and repentance I have spoken in the earliest Lectures; and my present remarks concerning the resurrection of the dead have been made with reference to the Article “In the resurrection of the flesh.” Now then let me finish what still remains to be said for the Article, “In one Holy Catholic Church,” on which, though one might say many things, we will speak but briefly

23. It is called Catholic then because it span extends over all the world, from one end of the earth to the other; and because it teaches universally and completely one and all the doctrines which ought to come to men’s knowledge, concerning things both visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly and because it brings into subjection to godliness the whole race of mankind, governors and governed, learned and unlearned; and because it universally treats and heals the whole class of sins, which are committed by soul or body, and possesses in itself every form of virtue which is named, both in deeds and words, and in every kind of spiritual gifts.

26…since one might properly and truly say that there is a Church of evil doers, I mean the meetings of the heretics, the Marcionists and Manichees, and the rest, for this cause the Faith has securely delivered to thee now the Article, “And in one Holy Catholic Church;” that thou mayest avoid their wretched meetings, and ever abide with the Holy Church Catholic in which thou wast regenerated. And if ever thou art sojourning in cities, inquire not simply where the Lord’s House is (for the other sects of the profane also attempt to call their own dens houses of the Lord), nor merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the peculiar name of this Holy Church, the mother of us all, which is the spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God St. Cyril of Jerusalem – Lecture XVIII

Optatus of Milevis, Against the Donatists 366 A.D. (African/Latin)

(8)You cannot then deny that you do know that upon Peter first in the City of Rome was bestowed the Episcopal Cathedra on which sat Peter, the Head of all the Apostles(for which reason he was called Cephas), that, in this one Cathedra, unity should be preserved by all, lest the other Apostles might claim—-each for himself—-separate Cathedras, so that he who should set up a second Cathedra against the unique Cathedra would already be a schismatic and a sinner. Well then, on the one Cathedra, which is the first of the Endowments, Peter was the first to sit. Against the Donatists-book 2, chapter 2

II. He proves from the Cathedra Petri that the Cathedra which is the first endowment of the Church belongs to Catholics, not to Donatists.

So we have proved that the Catholic Church is the Church which is spread throughout the world. We must now mention its Adornments and see where are its five Endowments (which you have said to be six, amongst which the CATHEDRA is the first; and, since the second Endowment, which is the ‘Angelus,’ cannot be added unless a Bishop has sat on Cathedra, we must see who was the first to sit on the Cathedra, and where he sat. If you do not know this, learn. If you do know, blush. Ignorance cannot be attributed to you—-it follows that you know. For one who knows, to err is sin. Those who do not know may sometimes be pardoned.

ST. PACIAN, BISHOP OF BARCELONA,EPISTLES TO SYMPRONIAN- 375 A.D. (Spaniard/latin)

9)7. And shall the Fathers rather follow our authority, and the antiquity of Saints give way to be emended by us, and times now putrifying through their sins, pluck out the grey hairs of Apostolic age? And yet, my brother, be not troubled; Christian is my name, but Catholic my surname. The former gives me a name, the latter distinguishes me. By the one I am approved; by the other I am but marked.

8.   And if at last we must give an account of the word Catholic, and draw it out from the Greek by a Latin interpretation, “Catholic” is ‘every where one,’ or, as learned men “obedience in all,” i. e. all the commands of God. Whence the Apostle, Whether ye be obedient in all things;and again,For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous. Therefore he who is a Catholic, the same man is obedient. He who is obedient, the same is a Christian, and thus the Catholic is a Christian. Wherefore our people when named Catholic are separated by this appellation from the heretical name. OF THE CATHOLIC NAME

Jointly from three emperors written in 380 A.D. for all the empire. Note: this is one year prior to the 1st synod of Constantinople (later known as the 2nd Ecumenical council):

10) C. Th.XVI.i.2: We desire that all the people under the rule of our clemency should live by that religion which divine Peter the apostle is said to have given to the Romans, and whichit is evident that Pope Damasusand Peter, bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic sanctity, followed; that is that we should believe in the one deity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with equal majesty and in the Holy Trinity according to the apostolic teaching and the authority of the gospel. Gratian, Valentinian and Theodosius Augusti. Codex Theodosianus.

Nicene Constantinopolitan creed 381 A.D. (150 Greek bishops -no latins)

314px-gregor-chora.jpg11)We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God, and born of the Father before all ages, (God of God) Light of Light, True God of True God, Begotten, not made, of one essence(one in being) with the Father, by Whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man;And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried;And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures;And ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father;And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, Whose kingdom shall have no end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spoke by the Prophets;

And we believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.We acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins.We look for the Resurrection of the dead, And the Life of the world to come. Amen.

Pope St. Damasus I – 382 A.D.

damasus.jpg

12) 1.After all these [writings of] the prophets and the evangelical and apostolic scriptures which we discussed above, on which the catholic church is founded by the grace of God, we also have thought necessary to say what, although the universal catholic church diffused throughout the world is the single bride of Christ, however the holy Roman church is given first place by the rest of the churches without[the need for] a synodical decision, but from the voice of the Lord our saviour in the gospel obtained primacy: ‘You are Peter,’ he said, ‘and upon this rock I shall build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and to you I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you shall bind upon Earth shall be bound also in heaven and whatever you release upon Earth shall also be released in heaven’.

2. In addition there is also the presence of the blessed apostle Paul, ‘the chosen vessel’, who not in opposition, as the heresies jabber, but on the same date and the same day was crowned in glorious death with Peter in the city of Rome suffering under Nero Caesar; and equally they made the above-mentioned holy Roman church special in Christ the Lord and gave preference in their presence and veneration-worthy triumph before all other cities in the whole world.

3. Therefore first is the seat at the Roman church of the apostle Peter ‘having no spot or wrinkle or any other [defect]’. However the second place was given in the name of blessed Peter to Mark his disciple and gospel-writer at Alexandria, and who himself wrote down the word of truth directed by Peter the apostle in Egypt and gloriously consummated [his life] in martyrdom. Indeed the third place is held at Antioch of the most blessed and honourable apostle Peter, who lived there before he came to Roma and where first the name of the new race of the Christians was heard. Section 3

Next is St. Augustine of Hippo who wrote Against the Epislte of Manichaeus in 397 A.D. (African/Latin)

saint_augustine_oldest_image_sm.jpg13) 5. For in the Catholic Church, not to speak of the purest wisdom, to the knowledge of which a few spiritual men attain in this life, so as to know it, in the scantiest measure, indeed, because they are but men, still without any uncertainty (since the rest of the multitude derive their entire security not from acuteness of intellect, but from simplicity of faith,)—not to speak of this wisdom, which you do not believe to be in the Catholic Church, there are many other things which most justly keep me in her bosom. The consent of peoples and nations keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, gave it in charge to feed His sheep, down to the present episcopate. And so, lastly, does the name itself of Catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained; so that, though all heretics wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house. Such then in number and importance are the precious ties belonging to the Christian name which keep a believer in the Catholic Church, as it is right they should, though from the slowness of our understanding, or the small attainment of our life, the truth may not yet fully disclose itself. But with you, where there is none of these things to attract or keep me, the promise of truth is the only thing that comes into play. Now if the truth is so clearly proved as to leave no possibility of doubt, it must be set before all the things that keep me in the Catholic Church; but if there is only a promise without any fulfillment, no one shall move me from the faith which binds my mind with ties so many and so strong to the Christian religion.

6.For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church. So when those on whose authority I have consented to believe in the gospel tell me not to believe in Manichæus, how can I but consent? Take your choice. If you say, Believe the Catholics: their advice to me is to put no faith in you; so that, believing them, I am precluded from believing you;—If you say, Do not believe the Catholics: you cannot fairly use the gospel in bringing me to faith in Manichæus; for it was at the command of the Catholics that I believed the gospel;—Again, if you say, You were right in believing the Catholics when they praised the gospel, but wrong in believing their vituperation of Manichæus: do you think me such a fool as to believe or not to believe as you like or dislike, without any reason? It is therefore fairer and safer by far for me, having in one instance put faith in the Catholics, not to go over to you, till, instead of bidding me believe, you make me understand something in the clearest and most open manner. To convince me, then, you must put aside the gospel. If you keep to the gospel, I will keep to those who commanded me to believe the gospel; and, in obedience to them, I will not believe you at all. But if haply you should succeed in finding in the gospel an incontrovertible testimony to the apostleship of Manichæus, you will weaken my regard for the authority of the Catholics who bid me not to believe you; and the effect of that will be, that I shall no longer be able to believe the gospel either, for it was through the Catholics that I got my faith in it; and so, whatever you bring from the gospel will no longer have any weight with me. Wherefore, if no clear proof of the apostleship of Manichæus is found in the gospel, I will believe the Catholics rather than you.But if you read thence some passage clearly in favor of Manichæus, I will believe neither them nor you: not them, for they lied to me about you; nor you, for you quote to me that Scripture which I had believed on the authority of those liars. But far be it that I should not believe the gospel; for believing it, I find no way of believing you too. For the names of the apostles, as there recorded do not include the name of Manichæus. And who the successor of Christ’s betrayer was we read in the Acts of the Apostles; Acts 1:26 which book I must needs believe if I believe the gospel, since both writings alike Catholic authority commends to me. Chapter 4 & 5.

St. Augustine  – Letter to Vincentius – 408 A.D. 

14) 23. You think that you make a very acute remark when you affirm the name Catholic to mean universal, not in respect to the communion as embracing the whole world, but in respect to the observance of all Divine precepts and of all the sacraments, as if we (even accepting the position that the Church is called Catholic because it honestly holds the whole truth, of which fragments here and there are found in some heresies) rested upon the testimony of this word’s signification, and not upon the promises of God, and so many indisputable testimonies of the truth itself, our demonstration of the existence of the Church of God in all nations. In fact, however, this is the whole which you attempt to make us believe, that the Rogatists alone remain worthy of the name Catholics, on the ground of their observing all the Divine precepts and all the sacraments; and that you are the only persons in whom the Son of man when He comes shall find faith. Letter 93, Chapter 7, para.23

Next is Sozomen a Greek church historian 425 A.D. as background on the previous law issue by the Emperors quote above (#7)

15)Finally we as Gaul was about this period infested by the incursions of the Alemanni, Gratian returned to his paternal dominions, which he had reserved for himself and his brother, when he bestowed the government of Illyria and of the Eastern provinces upon Theodosius. He effected his purpose with regard to the barbarians; and Theodosius was equally successful against the tribes from the banks of the Ister; he defeated them, compelled them to sue for peace, and, after accepting hostages from them, proceeded to Thessalonica. He fell ill while in this city, and after receiving instruction from Ascholius, the bishop, he was initiated, and was soon after restored to health. The parents of Theodosius were Christians, and were attached to the Nicene doctrines; he was pleased with Ascholius, who maintained the same doctrines, and was, in a word, endowed with every virtue of the priesthood. He also rejoiced at finding that the Arian heresy had not been participated in by Illyria. He inquired concerning the religious sentiments which were prevalent in the other provinces, and ascertained that, as far as Macedonia,all the churches were like minded, and all held that equal homage ought to be rendered to God the Word, and to the Holy Ghost, as to God the Father; but that towards the East, and particularly at Constantinople, the people were divided into many different heresies. Reflecting that it would be better to propound his own religious views to his subjects, so as not to appear to be using force by commanding the unwilling subject to worship contrary to his judgment, Theodosius enacted a law at Thessalonica, which he caused to be published at Constantinople, well knowing that the rescript would speedily become public to all the other cities, if issued from that city, which is as a citadel of the whole empire. He made known by this law his intention of leading all his subjects to the reception of that faith which Peter, the chief of the apostles, had, from the beginning, preached to the Romans, and which was professed by Damasus, bishop of Rome, and by Peter, bishop of Alexandria. He enacted that the title of Catholic Church should be exclusively confined to those who rendered equal homage to the Three Persons of the Trinity, and that those individuals who entertained opposite opinions should be treated as heretics, regarded with contempt, and delivered over to punishment. Ecclesiastical History (Book VII)

Drawing from St. Vincent of Lerins 434 A.DCommonitory chapters 2 & 3 otherwise known as the Vincentian Canon which is used by our Orthodox and Anglican friends to bludgeon my fellow Catholics;>)

16) [6.] Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense Catholic; which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors.

Analysis. Still here? Well I hope this will be worthy of your time & effort.

  • From #1(St. Ignatius) we find that a “bishop is need” in the Catholic Church and that Christians “follow” him as “Jesus does the Father”. IOWs “obedience” &instituted” by God
  • From #2 (St. Polycarp) we see his use of the term “church of God” with various locations, but regardless they are all congregations of the Holy Catholic Church. IOWs “unity”.Jesus Christ is the Shepherd of the Catholic Church throughout the world.
  • From #3 (St. Irenaeus of Lyon) dealing with Gnostics who’s claim is hidden knowledge, not known to the general public; his solution is that every church should agree with the church of Rome, based on some undefined authority, and a unity with all other Apostolic church in the world.
  • Secondly, of more importance is that the Truth is found nowhere else but in the Catholic church & is the sole depository of apostolic doctrine. IOWs preservers of the “deposit of faith”.
  • Next is #4 (Tertullian) our have our first latin and first African. Prior to this we heard only from Greeks in the east. Tertullian deals with internal descent of believers who are misleading/”infecting” other believers. The solution is to “excommunicate” those formally within the church.
  • And #5 (St. Cyprian) deals with schism over the issue of liberal or rigorist application of christian principles. The Novatian issue. He solution is to send a letter to the bishop of Rome(Cornelius) stating that he was in communion with him and therefore with the Catholic Church. IOWs “unity with the bishop of Rome” is somehow connected to “communion with the Catholic Church”.

That closes out the Apostolic Father and pre-Nicene era.

B) The next section, I have separated because of the course altering change of the imperial gov’t of Rome saw the light of truth. It is critical to understand the period between 350 A.D. & 451 A.D. for a proper take on Christiology & church authority. There are just about as many creeds as there were local churches in the 4th century.

  • The Nicene Creed(#6) we see not just the affirmation of faith, but the penalty for those who profess something other then the Trinity. Namely the Arians and also Monarchianists. The term Apostolic is added as a requirement to be Catholic.
  • St. Cyril of Jerusalem (#7) attended the 2nd Ecumenical Council. In his catechism he adds the space to the requirement as well as teaching a unified comprehensive doctrine from one end of the earth to the other. One is to avoid membership in churches which teach heresy, it is not enough to be called the church of God.
  • Optatus of Milevius (#8) adds that the chair of St. Peter is required for unity. This is in reaction to the Donatist. IF one reads about the history of this sect there is IMO a striking similarity between it and modern day schismatics. The Catholic church was considered to “liberal” the Donatist after all had in fact remained true to the faith under persecution and dead by the pagan emperors. They refused to turn over the Sacred Scriptures and liturgical & Church father writings. They referred to the Catholics who were permitted back into the church after the persecutions as  traditor. This will come up again when dealing with St. Vincent’s canon.
  • St. Pacian (#9) adds the word obedience as the quality of a Catholic.
  • The 3 emperors (#10) place into Imperial law not the Creed of the 318 which was the rallyin cry throughout the turbulent times of this century, but the faith delivered by St. Peter the Apostle to the Romans (not the empire, but the local church in Rome, headed by it’s bishop) and St. Peter II bishop of Alexandria, who lived in exile in Rome, prior to being restored. Confirmed in (#15). It is now civil law that all who would be Catholic were required to profess a Trinitarian belief.
  • The Nicene-constantinopolitian Creed (#11 -Greek-easterners) is the most used in liturgies for all parties involved in this topic. These truths are to be held by everyone who is called by the name Catholic. It dealt with the Macedonian heresy( the three great Cappadocians fathers fought against this) , however the church in Antioch was in schism at the time and St. Meletius of Antioch (who was president of this council) was not in communion with the west or Alexandria (being suspect of Semi-Arian leanings). It’s creed was not used in the liturgy for centuries after the fact in the west and it was not until the Ecumenical council of Chalcedon(451 A.D.) that the creed was considered an Ecumenical council by Pope Leo the Great. The numerical number of “one” is included as a requirement of the Catholic church. There is no other.
  • St. Damasus I (#12) delivers his tome possibly accepted by the council of constantinople in 382, adds what has become to be known as papal supremacy as a condition of being Catholic. It establishes the gov’t structure as being of divine origin and the two other Petrine sees(Alexandria & Antioch) share in this authority bases on St. Peter.
  • St. Augustine (#13 &14) is simply dialog which I think explains what is not Catholic as much as what is.
  • St. Vincent (#16)  as stated above is IMO the primary quote used by those who desire to make a claim on the term Catholic, while not being in obedience, unity or communion to the bishop of rome, successor to St. Peter’s chair. He  uses examples to clarify what he meant by his theory, which can be found in the same book and link under #16  Chapters 4, 5, & 6
  • He draws on the example of the Donatists who as mentioned were schismatics, then the Arians who were heretics, then Martrys as witnesses to the Catholic faith, then one would think strange statement from Pope Stephen ” Let there be no innovation—nothing but what has been handed down.” This example point to communion with the bishop of Rome in the historical record. One would think then that this canon appeals in communion with Rome and required to be in global unity, doctrine, obedience with(not necessarily under) the chair of St. Peter in Rome.

As one can see from the primary sources the western church dealt with a lot of internal schism, from rigiorist mostly in Africa, heretics from the east and west, whereas the east deal more with theological speculation, which created heresy. It is my opinion that Christ select St. Peter as an integral part of the church and due to historical circumstances St. Peter chose Rome as his permanent chair. One of the theme’s that the fathers speak about is Catholic is from one end of the earth to the other. The ancients thought that they had achieved that goal; however today we know they were off a bit. That doesn’t change their claim however and I believe it is achieve by the Catholic church. A map of the Dioceses in the World

My conclusion is that Catholic is universal in geographic scope, unity in doctrine, unity with the bishop of Rome, obedience to scripture and the deposit of faith.

IOW’s your Catholic if your in communion with his guy:

pope-b16.jpg

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Church history is an amazing field of endeavor. I wish I had taken that up in my college years, but I doubt you can make a living out of it or at least I doubt that I could do so. Anyway division within Christianity [by that I mean those who accept at a minimum two points: 1) God is three Persons & One God; 2) Jesus Christ is fully God and fully Human]. All Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic communions accept this as truth.

Many people will then proceed with the what happens to me issue of Sorteriology(the study of salvation). It’s a natural inclination, however the difficulty with this position is in the selection of the authority by which one determines the process of salvation. All three groups will again agree that the Bible is the word of God. The problem is first that the church existed prior to the canon of the Bible. If one wanted to claim that the Bible is only the books in the Old testament, then one could support the view that the Bible existed prior to the church; however we already have such a group- we refer to them as Jews.

The next step then is in the area of Eccelesiology. The study of church gov’t is foundational to most of the issues that divide Christianity IMO. It has the same issue of Sorteriology, but one can use church history to see how the church understood just what they received from Christ and the Apostles and those who followed behind them. Knowing when these variations in church gov’t started, by whom and on what basis provides a working basis on which to discuss this topic. It would be les difficult to simply select the canon of scripture first (as many will) and develop their Sorteriology first then their Eccelesiology.

Sadly I would venture that the overwhelming majority of Christians accept their form of church gov’t, based more on good preaching, good choir/music, how that local church’s beliefs line up with their own personal beliefs and a good support community. IOW most individuals will accept very different forms of eccelesiology based on other factors I would deemed as subjective matters.

I have taken the matter in reverse historical order of when these ideas gained acceptance by (IMO significant portions of Christians). Being Catholic I am biased in that I list the Catholic Church last, since I believe it to be the oldest and the one established by Christ to perform His mission on earth.

It is very difficult to pick a given denomination as being representative of the whole when it comes to our first gov’t system in Christianity which is called -Congregationalism. Most scholars would made a case for
John Smyth [yes I broke down and got lazy and used Wikipedia as an autoritive secondary source -God forgive me] established this style of church gov’t. Since the Baptist are the largest representative of this doctrinal position today, I select their definition of The Church

A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.

The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.

Matthew 16:15-19; 18:15-20; Acts 2:41-42,47; 5:11-14; 6:3-6; 13:1-3; 14:23,27; 15:1-30; 16:5; 20:28; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:16; 5:4-5; 7:17; 9:13-14; 12; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11,21; 5:22-32; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 2:9-14; 3:1-15; 4:14; Hebrews 11:39-40; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Revelation 2-3; 21:2-3. [Underlining by myself]

and a warning from a Baptist pastor in temptation by the SBC to centralize local church authority[well intentioned as I understand it-eliminate deviation in doctrinal matters- what Catholics would term heretical] which I though may be helpful as well under Congregationalism.

Note that the local church is called autonomous, guided by Christ through a democratic process and the individual is accountable to Christ (infered here is that the individual is not accountable to the local church, although one would assume that the two would be linked in theory since both are guided and accountable to Christ). It also acknowledges that all believers in every age is part of the body of Christ. The difficulty in defending this position is that it didn’t exist prior to 1600 A.D. Hence most defenders will jump back to the 40 to 60 A.D. time frame, claiming that they have restored what was lost in the past 1550 years. The only way to restrict the arguement is to limit the authority to the Bible alone, because the position does not exist in the historical record.

Next is Presbyterianism which was a bit easier to nail down simply because, they like those that follow in this discussion adhere to a more structure system of the church.

The scripture doth hold out a presbytery in a church.[44]

A presbytery consisteth of ministers of the word, and such other public officers as are agreeable to and warranted by the word of God to be church-governors, to join with the ministers in the government of the church.[45]The scripture doth hold forth, that many particular congregations may be under one presbyterial government.

This proposition is proved by instances:

I. First, Of the church of Jerusalem, which consisted of more congregations than one, and all these congregations were under one presbyterial government.

This appeareth thus:

First, The church of Jerusalem consisted of more congregations than one, as is manifest:

1st, By the multitude of believers mentioned, in divers [places], both before the dispersion of the believers there, by means of the persecution,[46] and also after the dispersion. [47]2dly, By the many apostles and other preachers in the church of Jerusalem. And if there were but one congregation there, then each apostle preached but seldom;[48] which will not consist with Acts vi. 2. 3dly, The diversity of languages among the believers, mentioned both in the second and sixth chapters of the Acts, doth argue more congregations than one in that church.

Secondly, All those congregations were under one presbyterial government; because,1st, They were one church.[49]2dly, The elders of the church are mentioned. [50] 3dly, The apostles did the ordinary acts of presbyters, as presbyters in that kirk; which proveth a presbyterial church before the dispersion, Acts vi. 4thly, The several congregations in Jerusalem being one church, the elders of that church are mentioned as meeting together for acts of government;[51] which proves that those several congregations were under one presbyterial government.And whether these congregations were fixed or not fixed, in regard of officers or members, it is all one as to the truth of the proposition. Nor doth there appear any material difference betwixt the several congregations in Jerusalem, and the many congregations now in the ordinary condition of the church, as to the point of fixedness required of officers or members.Thirdly, Therefore the scripture doth hold forth, that many congregations may be under one presbyterial government.

II. Secondly, By the instance of the church of Ephesus; for,

First, That there were more congregations than one in the church of Ephesus, appears by Acts xx. 31,[52] where is mention of Paul’s continuance at Ephesus in preaching for the space of three years; and Acts xix. 18,19,20, where the special effect of the word is mentioned;[53] and ver. 10. and 17. of the same chapter, where is a distinction of Jews and Greeks;[54] and 1 Cor. xvi. 8,9, where is a reason of Paul’s stay at Ephesus until Pentecost;[55] and ver. 19, where is mention of a particular church in the house of Aquila and Priscilla, then at Ephesus,[56] as appears, Acts xviii. 19,24,26.[57] All which laid together, doth prove that the multitude of believers did make more congregations than one in the church of Ephesus.Secondly, That there were many elders over these many congregations, as one flock, appeareth.[58]Thirdly, That these many congregations were one church, and that they were under one presbyterial government, appeareth.[59] The scripture doth hold out another sort of assemblies for the government of the church, beside classical and congregational, all which we call Synodical.[60]Pastors and teachers, and other church-governors, (as also other fit persons, when it shall be deemed expedient,) are members of those assemblies which we call Synodical, where they have a lawful calling thereunto.Synodical assemblies may lawfully be of several sorts, as provincial, national, and oecumenical.It is lawful, and agreeable to the word of God, that there be a subordination of congregational, classical, provincial, and national assemblies, for the government of the church.

The difference btwn Presbyterianism and Congregationalism is that it believes that while scripture does indicate local churches, there is a structure of pastoral authority which the collective local churches and the individuals are required to submit too. It’s major jump off point btwn it and the Episcopal system is because scripture does show bishops(overseer) in functions of that of a presbyter. In fact scripture shows Apostles doing the same as well. Hermeneutics (interpretation) of scripture therefore becomes important.

The next system of government is Episcopal. Depending on whom one speaks to there are 3 versions or practioners of this system. The first Anglicanism has historically been defined by the 39 articles.

XIX. Of the Church.

The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.

As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred; so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith.

XX. Of the Authority of the Church.

The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.

XXI. Of the Authority of General Councils.

[The Twenty-first of the former Articles is omitted; because it is partly of a local and civil nature, and is provided for, as to the remaining parts of it, in other Articles.]

The original 1571, 1662 text of this Article, omitted in the version of 1801, reads as follows:

“General Councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of Princes. And when they be gathered together, (forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and Word of God,) they may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of holy Scripture.”

I think most Anglicans would agree that the first break with Rome was not valid (King Henry VIII); however most would disagree with what they would term the second with Queen Elizabeth I. Their position would be that it was a political move by the papacy, rather then a theological break with Rome as the Catholic church claims.

Next is Orthodox like Catholicism both claim to be the True Church established by Jesus Christ. Both groups believe that Christ willed One church, episcopal in nature, sacramental, perserved in apostolic succession with the Bible as God’s word with the church as it’s guardian in interpretation, which it views through the greater body of work refered to as Tradition.

The two major differences btwn the two groups are the issue of the role of the bishop of rome in the church and the filioque (procession of the Holy Spirit) as contained with the symbol of the Catholic creed, but not in the former. [A lenghty discussion in itself].

That’s it in a nut shell. I’ll make an update and refer back to this in another article. If those of you from other communions believe they have a better primary source for their communion, I’d be interested in it.

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With new years resolutions as a part of secular society tradition; I got to thinking about vows that we all make and some that join religious groups make and what would be the most difficult to maintain in today’s society.

Now we all hear about the high divorce rate with marriages. And I would venture that most people would think that Chasity is the most difficult vow to maintain. However having known many priest in my life I would have to say that sampling would be heavily weighted towards the vow of obedience, not Chasity.wed_couple_runs_.jpg

Lets look at the list of vows.

1) A vow/oath – this could be to testify to the truth in a court of law, but it’s also what we make a contract with God as may of us have done in the past “Please God if you do XYZ, then I will do ABC”.

2) Wedding vows – self explanatory.

3) Religious vows:

A) Povertypriesthood2.jpg

B) Chasity

C) Obedience

D) Stability (Benedictines and other monastic orders)

E) Silence

F) Known as the 4th vow for Jesuits – obedience to the Pope

G) Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa) to serve the poorest of the poor

Everyone is called to their vocation – single, married or religious life. Of the three I would say that the single life is the most difficult. Society expects you to get married if you don’t chose the religious life, but I certainly believe that God calls some of us to be single for life. This life vocation doesn’t have the support system that the other two vocations offer, but it does allow great freedom to accomplish many things in life that the other vocations can only dream of.

Divorce rates for America at lest are 40% for first timers, 67% for second, and 74% for third or more.

Divorce rates among Christian groups

Denomination (in order of decreasing divorce rate)

% who have been divorced

Non-denominational ** 34%
Baptists 29%
Mainline Protestants 25%
Mormons 24%
Catholics 21%
Lutherans 21%

Barna Research Group -1999 Survey inspires debate over why faith isn’t a bigger factor in marriage

So much for the marriage vow.

Silence as a vow I would think could be the most difficult, but in a monastic setting likely isn’t hard given you have a very selected group of individuals all committed to re-enforcing that vow.

I think perhaps a vow of poverty in this country would be very hard, because our standard of living is much higher then that of third world countries. Even the actual poor (those not taking a vow of poverty) are more well off then the majority of third world people.

But for me I think the vow of stability is likely the most difficult. To select a place to live and then realize that you will never leave that place for the rest of your life. In our mobile society I can’t think of being anchored to a fixed location. I think I would keep silent for life more easily then to be stuck in one place until I die. But certainly there is something to be said for building up a location with strong roots. It also forces you to work out your problems, you can’t transfer to some place else and avoid conflict. It forces you to deal with people and resolve conflict.

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350px-p6orthodox.jpgThere will be little mention if any of this event 43 years ago today, but 2 churchmen had the courage and humility to engage in discussions that none had been willing or able to do in 500 years.

Both men laid the seeds towards re-union that is still an unrealized event. But we are all better off for their efforts. Blessed be their memory.

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I found this article on several blogs and having searched the internet, I haven’t found much in the way of a Catholic response to what I feel is a well thought out approach to the issue of ecumenicism. I think the topic fits better with RCC and Orthodoxy then Anglicanism. Be that as it may, all of Fr. Kirbys efforts deserve a measured response, even if it’s a disjoined one by me. I didn’t feel I had a strong enough handle to address his part III section on validity of orders, perhaps some else will do so. My remarks are in red, his in black(emphasis & underlines are mine), primary resources in blue and secondary in purple. Link to his full article here.

His Premise:
But many would say that the most fundamental principle that each Church holds is that it and it alone is the One True Church and that those bodies outside its present communion are thus not so. Why? Because their confidence about their beliefs is founded on a confidence about who they are. And since both sides believe in the Unity and Unicity of the Church, it seems that this in combination with their self-identification as that Church leads logically to a perfectly symmetrical yet utterly irreconcilable understanding of the Church and the goal of ecumenism.

If this is true, it means that, whatever theological and doctrinal barriers are broken, the greatest hurdle that will have to be faced is answering the question “Who is coming back to whom?”In other words, who, if any body, will admit they were wrong about their basic identity and accept that for centuries they have been outside the Una Sancta, the Catholic Church? Catholic ecumenism is a question then, not just of how to forge a common future, but how to interpret a divided past.

Anglican Catholics have been somewhat distinctive in that their self-understanding has asserted their Catholicity but in a non-exclusive manner. That is, they have seen present divisions as being within the Catholic Church, such that they along with the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, and perhaps even Oriental Churches are in fact all in the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

I don’t know if he is supporting the Branch theory (an EOC take) or not.

This Anglican non-exclusivity has then been used against us. Our appeal to Catholic consent, it is claimed, means that we cannot differ from the exclusivist ecclesiologies common to Rome and the East without trampling the Vincentian Canon and proving our Protestantism.

I have to historically agree with him on this point soome with good intent others not.

Al Kimel, in his Pontificator’s Fourth Law states that “A church that does not understand itself as the Church, outside of which there is no salvation, is not the Church but a denomination or sect.” My past response to this on his blog, with minor modifications, follows:

This is not so much an axiomatic law as a derived one. I submit that it is based on the following argument (or something like it):

1. Any truly Catholic ecclesiology must not only teach that the church is visible and one, but that it is visibly one.

2. A Church holding a Catholic ecclesiology will obviously believe that it is Catholic.

3. Therefore, such a Church must also hold that any body outside its visible unity, that is, not part of its internal communio in sacris, is outside the unity of the Catholic Church. [1 + 2]

4. Any truly Catholic ecclesiology must also teach that outside the Church there is no salvation.

5. Any body claiming to be a church which does not hold a truly Catholic ecclesiology is a denomination or sect.

6. Therefore, a church that does not understand itself as the Church, outside of which there is no salvation, is not the Church but a denomination or sect [3 + 4 +5
The first premise identified above as underlying this Law has the following corollary for historical interpretation: Any break in communion that discontinues the visibility of unity between one Christian body and another, if the two groups were previously united within the Catholic Church, must leave one group outside the Catholic Church until that breach is visibly healed. Call this proposition 1*.
Thus, if any historical circumstances exist that have very commonly been interpreted by theologians with undisputedly Catholic ecclesiologies in ways that conflict with this corollary, then it must be accepted either that the corollary is oversimplified and requires denial or modification or it must at least be admitted that its denial does not prove a theologian is an ecclesiological heretic! Therefore, given the existence of such interpretations of Church history by substantial numbers of Catholic and Orthodox theologians in good standing, proposition 1 of 6 and the derived Fourth Law would no longer obtain in their present form. Call the existence of such interpretations contra-1*, or C-1*. Now for the evidence.

I would say that they are oversimplified. There are IMO two aspects of the papacy that theologians have just scratched the surface. The Marian and the servant of the servants of God aspect.

1) Marian – Cardinal Marc Ouellet-Mary’s role is deeper than that of Peter

…All the Church must therefore be willing to make an exchange of gifts that goes beyond finding political, let’s say, formulas. That is why in my thinking on the ecumenic movement I tried to develop the Marian principle.

In what sense?
OUELLET: The ecumenic orientation is too centered on the episcopacy, on relations between collegiality and papacy and not enough on the bases of the faith and hence on the role of Mary, that – and in this the Orthodox are very close to us – is deeper than the role of Peter or of the bishops. Thinking is needed on the Marian principle as the basis of the unity of the Church. This fact, according to me, has not been still sufficiently gone into in ecumenic dialogue

I agree with the Cardinal on this point.

A great link citing many references to primary sources on Mary and the Church: Figure and Model

Catechism of the Catholic Church 773. In the Church this communion of men with God, in the “love [that] never ends,” is the purpose which governs everything in her that is a sacramental means, tied to this passing world.192 “[The Church’s] structure is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ’s members. And holiness is measured according to the ‘great mystery’ in which the Bride responds with the gift of love to the gift of the Bridegroom.”193 Mary goes before us all in the holiness that is the Church’s mystery as “the bride without spot or wrinkle.”194 This is why the “Marian” dimension of the Church precedes the “Petrine.”195[ emphasis mine ]

The citation (195) refers back to PJPII MULIERIS DIGNITATEM #27

This is of fundamental importance for understanding the Church in her own essence, so as to avoid applying to the Church–even in her dimension as an “institution” made up of human beings and forming part of history–criteria of understanding and judgment which do not pertain to her nature. Although the Church possesses a “hierarchical” structure,[53] nevertheless this structure is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ’s members. And holiness is measured according to the “great mystery” in which the Bride responds with the gift of love to the gift of the Bridegroom. She does this “in the Holy Spirit,” since “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom 5:5). The Second Vatican Council, confirming the teaching of the whole of tradition, recalled that in the hierarchy of holiness it is precisely the “woman,” Mary of Nazareth, who is the “figure” of the Church. She “precedes” everyone on the path to holiness; in her person “the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle (cf. Eph 5:27).”[54] In this sense, one can say that the Church is both “Marian” and “Apostolic-Petrine.”[55]

Crisis Magazine-By David L. Schindler mentions

Recuperating a rightful understanding of Mary within the reality of the Church was crucial for John Paul II’s sense of how a one-sided notion of the Church, as a hierarchical and clerical institution (Vatican I), was to be integrated into a notion of the Church as communio, a communion of persons (Vatican II), in a way that neither weakened the importance of the Petrine institution nor reduced the “People of God” to a democratic congregation.

This perhaps may be an opening which has yet to be tapped. While there are likely obstacles as well with this route simply because of the subject of Mary as church (especially with those of the Baptist communions) but could bear fruit I think with Anglicans and especially with Orthodoxy. If we reflect on Rm 5:5 emphasis of working through the Holy Spirit; this is certainly an avenue which has been acknowledged by the Catholic church as normative in many communities. SO perhaps in this sense there is no break in communion.

2) Servant of the servants of God

In this area I think the effort will be primarily on the papacy’s effort to place emphasis on service to the people of God. One area I think would be a great project would to review historical actions taken by the papacy to see if the action is one based on Papal primacy or one of his other titles (Partiarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop/Metropolitian of Roman province, Sovereign of Vatican city state (Political). Everyone perceives the papacy simply as the role of Vat. I, but for example Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to the USA will involve different aspects/titles. If everyone were able to more clearly see how the pope’s actions relate to which title, then perhaps it would bring more clarity as to how,when and where he exercises authority.

88. Among all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities, the Catholic Church is conscious that she has preserved the ministry of the Successor of the Apostle Peter, the Bishop of Rome, whom God established as her “perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity” 146 and whom the Spirit sustains in order that he may enable all the others to share in this essential good. In the beautiful expression of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, my ministry is that of servus servorum Dei. This designation is the best possible safeguard against the risk of separating power (and in particular the primacy) from ministry. Such a separation would contradict the very meaning of power according to the Gospel: “I am among you as one who serves” (Lk 22:27), says our Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church. On the other hand, as I acknowledged on the important occasion of a visit to the World Council of Churches in Geneva on 12 June 1984, the Catholic Church’s conviction that in the ministry of the Bishop of Rome she has preserved, in fidelity to the Apostolic Tradition and the faith of the Fathers, the visible sign and guarantor of unity, constitutes a difficulty for most other Christians, whose memory is marked by certain painful recollections. To the extent that we are responsible for these, I join my Predecessor Paul VI in asking forgiveness.147 [emphasis mine]

95. All this however must always be done in communion. When the Catholic Church affirms that the office of the Bishop of Rome corresponds to the will of Christ, she does not separate this office from the mission entrusted to the whole body of Bishops, who are also “vicars and ambassadors of Christ”.153 The Bishop of Rome is a member of the “College”, and the Bishops are his brothers in the ministry. Whatever relates to the unity of all Christian communities clearly forms part of the concerns of the primacy. As Bishop of Rome I am fully aware, as I have reaffirmed in the present Encyclical Letter, that Christ ardently desires the full and visible communion of all those Communities in which, by virtue of God’s faithfulness, his Spirit dwells. I am convinced that I have a particular responsibility in this regard, above all in acknowledging the ecumenical aspirations of the majority of the Christian Communities and in heeding the request made of me to find a way of exercising the primacy which, while in no way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nonetheless open to a new situation. For a whole millennium Christians were united in “a brotherly fraternal communion of faith and sacramental life … If disagreements in belief and discipline arose among them, the Roman See acted by common consent as moderator”.154[emphasis mine] Ut unum sint

II

C-1* EXHIBIT A. During the Meletian Schism in the ancient Church, Meletius of Antioch and his flock were not recognised by or in communion with Rome. Most of the East did recognise him and reject his rival – even to the point where he presided for a while at the sitting of an Ecumenical Council. Eventually, not only was Meletius’ claim to be the legitimate Catholic Bishop recognised universally after his death, but he was canonised and his successors (not his rival’s) were the Patriarchs of Antioch. Thus, visible unity was broken without either side being considered by anyone in hindsight as outside the Church. However, it could be argued that visible unity was merely “somewhat obscured” since Meletius was in communion with bishops who were in communion with Rome.

Well lets speak of history then. Meletius use of the term homoousios sounds very much like Sabellianizism when he supports the creed of 325 at the council of Antioch of 363 which he presided over as Socrates Scholasticus relates in book 3,25,14 of his church history. Especially since the term homoousios, which to some seems novel and inappropriate, has been judiciously explained by the fathers to denote that the Son was begotten of the Father’s substance, and that he is like the Father as to substance.

The “east” includes Alexandria and St. Athanasius, so I don’t believe that Meletius claim to being Catholic was valid. He was not accepted by either Partiarch of Alexandria or Rome. St. Pope Damasus “Tome” has an interesting canon at the synod of Rome 382 which I believes was implied to address Meletius status –

9) Those also who have moved from churches to churches, we hold as not belonging to our communion until they return to those cities in which they were first established. But if one is ordained in the place of one who is living, while another is moving, let him who has left his own city be without the dignity of the priestly office until his successor rests in the Lord.

Translation of bishops from one diocese to another was often done to gain a larger, more affulient church and influence with the Emperor. This canon was to prevent this.

I don’t believe the example obtains.

C-1* EXHIBIT B. A large number of Orthodox theologians and hierarchs contend that the difference between themselves and the Monophysites has been, for many centuries at least, based on logomachies. As a consequence they also hold that the two Churches already hold to the same Faith and possess the same Sacraments, and are thus already one in the most important sense, such that restored intercommunion is justified. These theologians appear not to contend that such a restoration would be a return of a schismatic body to the Catholic Church but that it would be the resolution of unfortunate, long-standing misunderstandings between sister Churches. Thus, it is effectively recognised that true ecclesial unity can co-exist with lack of visible unity for considerable periods.

IMO the only question is did they support/sign the Henticon?

C-1* EXHIBIT C. During the Great Western-Papal Schisms, when there were multiple claimants to the papacy, each with considerable followings at times, visible unity of the Western Church was broken. However, the RCC has canonised as Saints people on opposing sides of these schisms. Also, the fact that it was difficult to tell with certainty which was the true Pope, such that even till today no official and binding decision has been made by the Vatican as to who were the true Popes, has led to RC historians and theologians not portraying any of the various flocks as outside the true Church.

This is a period of 40 years total. I would ask what Saints didn’t accept Pope Martin after that period? The question is as far as I can tell one of obedience not of heresy. IF members of the SSPX accept Pope Benedict XVI, but had rejected Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II are they still outside the church?

C-1* EXHIBIT D. It is now common in ecumenical (revisionist?) history to claim that the EOC and RCC did not really completely break communion or finalise the schism till many centuries after previously posited dates. It appears to be a permissible and common opinion among orthodox RCs and the EO to say that sacramental communion was not properly or completely absent till the 18th Century. However, the very fact that the schism had been dated by most people as being from much earlier shows that whatever unity there was, was noteasily visible. And this includes to the people contemporary with the disputed period, since in Anglican-Roman debates of the 17th Century it was commonly contended by Roman interlocutors that the EOC was in schism and heresy.

This is strickly my opinion in reading church history and I have to say that the break was gradual but from a much earlier period. Historians have traditionally pointed to 1054, but with all humility in my lack of formal training in this field over and against those who are grossly overeducated compaired to myself I have to say that the latest date of a formal visable schism was the Council in Trullo. Those canons not already approved prior to it in the west were anti-latin. The process of latin only and greek only liturgies was well on the way. The reference to the 5th ecumenical council (which you mentioned late in this piece) was rejected by much of the western church for several centuries. It’s acceptance as an ecumenical council IMO is exclusively be based on papal primacy. Otherwise those western churches who rejected this council are vaild and place this council as only a regional eastern synod non-binding on the universal church.

C-1* EXHIBIT E. It has never been contended by any canonist or theologian, as far as I know, that any excommunications, even at the Papal or Conciliar level, are infallible. Though the theological reasoning behind them can be, the necessarily accompanying examination of particular evidence regarding a person or group is corrigible. Thus it is implicitly accepted that people, including bishops, can be visibly excluded from the Church unjustly and thus not truly be outside the Church. This is yet another case when the visibility of unity is imperfect, and admission of such imperfection is permissible.

Agreed.

So, how should we explain the significance of present divisions? In what ways has unity been preserved? Can the history of the “schisms”, especially at the apparent breaking points, be understood in a way that acquits both sides in each case of formal schism or heresy? Is there a way the elephant in the room can be dealt with rather than ignored, without anyone having to repent of their self-understanding? I believe there are satisfactory answers to all these questions – yes to the last two! — that will allow Catholic ecumenism to succeed.

No I don’t think so, but that’s because I perceive your position as strickly jurisdictional, which if one only looked at Vat. I could get that impression. IF we keep the dialog only on this level I very much doubt we’ll get anywhere.

Since the schism was grown into in such a gradual, haphazard and (in the end) unreflective or non-binding manner, it seems permissible to view it as never definitive. In that case, there is no need for either side to exclude the other from its identification of the One Church. Instead, they should start from the premise that they at least might never have been truly or fully divided, and approach doctrinal dialogue from that hopeful perspective. (Let’s not forget that both East and West have basically disowned the mutual excommunications of 1054, so one must assume they accept that, whatever happened afterwards, the state of schism existing at that time did not really mean one side or the other was outside the Church.)

Well since 500 A.D. the only recognized method was via the Formula of Hormisdas. I don’t see a way around that one.

An objection to this reasoning from the RC side might consist of a simple quotation of the recent Papal Encyclical, DOMINUS IESUS:

“Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches. Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church.” [Emphasis added.]

But, even if this were an infallible doctrinal pronouncement, its statements of historical fact rather than principle would be corrigible (and fallible). What if the RCC and EOC can come to an agreement on Roman Primacy (which neither EO nor Anglican Catholics have ever simply denied, all believing themselves to hold to the Catholic teaching in this matter) without repudiating their respective authoritative Traditions, but instead synthesising them? Then the above statement would be seen to be based on sound theology and reasoning but a historically conditioned misapprehension of the relationship between the other particular Churches’ teaching and the dogma of the RCC. Thus the statement could be “moved beyond” with relative ease and no loss of face or authority.

If the Catholic position towards the Anglican communion with respect to apostolic succession and valid Eucharist were determined as jurisdictional rulings not theological one then I’d say yes. However, I think without further research they were theologically based. But I’m clearly out of my depth here which is why I didn’t address your part III at all.

Also, the Fathers of the 5th Ecumenical Council struck Pope Vigilius off the diptychs and refused him communion till he would do what they (and the whole Catholic Church, eventually) considered the right thing about the Three Chapters: i.e., condemn them and the doctrines contained therein. To say that an Ecumenical Council did its job successfully but, by the way, was composed pretty much entirely of formal schismatics (and heretics for denying in practice the absolute necessity of being in communion with and complete subjection to Rome?) is a bit too ridiculous for words. Therefore, broken communion with Rome, even when it is broken deliberately from the non-Roman side, is not and never has been sufficient proof of schism.

Actually if one looks at this complex council Emperor Justinian wanted Pope Vigilius excommunicated, but communion with the see of Rome to remain in tack.

Later the council states

We therefore anathematize the Three Chapters before-mentioned, that is, the impious Theodore of Mopsuestia, with his execrable writings, and those things which Theodoret impiously wrote, and the impious letter which is said to be of Ibas, and their defenders, and those who have written or do write in defence of them, or who dare to say that they are correct, and who have defended or attempt to defend their impiety with the names of the holy Fathers, or of the holy Council of Chalcedon. Session VIII

Was Pope Vigilius a defender of the Three Chapters or a defender of Chalcedon? Africa and much of Gaul and northern Italy rejected this council for hundreds of years. The question could just as easily be, what constituted an Ecumenical council?

First appeared as a three-part series at The Continuum, where Fr Matthew Kirby writes and co-hosts. Fr. Kirby is a prolific blogger, and a serious thinker and apologist for Continuing Anglicanism. He is also a priest in the Diocese of Australia in the Anglican Catholic Church. He is also a Franciscan Tertiary, as well as a physics/maths/religious studies teacher in a local Roman Catholic Senior High School, St Mary’s Campus of All Saint’s College, Maitland.

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Christ Pantocrator

I really think all guys should get pumped up about this feast.

The readings are from2 Sam. 5:1-3

In those days, all the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said:
“Here we are, your bone and your flesh.
In days past, when Saul was our king,
it was you who led the Israelites out and brought them back.
And the LORD said to you,
‘You shall shepherd my people Israel
and shall be commander of Israel.'”
When all the elders of Israel came to David in Hebron,
King David made an agreement with them there before the LORD,
and they anointed him king of Israel.

We move into Colossians 1:12-20

He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation.
For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;
all things were created through him and for him.
He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in all things he himself might be preeminent.
For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,
and through him to reconcile all things for him,
making peace by the blood of his cross
through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.

It a service to remember that our Lord will return in power and glory. Sorry I don’t believe that Christ is going to be dressed up as a 16th century silk rope with female appearances Christ the King

Catholicism has Orthodoxy beat when it comes to Icongraphy with respect to Christ sacrifice on the Cross, but Orthodoxy has Catholicism beat when it comes to Christ the King.

Christ Pantocrator at the second coming will come as we say in the creed “to judge the living and the dead”.

With the married and single males either sitting back or missing in action on Sundays, it’s an easier draw to get them in the pews when we focus on what has been traditionally know as male qualities. Strength, courage, self-sacrifice, justice and merciful victor. Granted most of us don’t live up to those qualities, but how can our boys grasp it if it’s not demonstrated some times in the liturgy.

Perhaps it’s just a guy thing.

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long to rip the document. Ambiguity and theologians are identical twins when it comes to words. Given church politics I wonder if the ROC was really that upset at Estonian being there or was it a pretext to allow the MP to opt out of the discussion and provide an opportunity to override anything he didn’t like at a latter day and save face.

The document was not signed by the representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate as they abandoned one of the first Commission’s sessions in Ravenna in October this year. They disagreed about a participation of the so-called “Estonian Apostolic Church” established by the Constantinople Patriarchate on the Russian Church’s canonical territory in 1996.

Bishop Hilarion requests the Theologian Commission to examine the ambiguous document adopted at the Orthodox-Catholic conference in Ravenna

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