Thursday, August 30, 2007

Orthodox Church and Catholic Church

The Russian Orthodox Patriarch has said that the Catholic Church must not see Russia as "mission territory" before a meeting between himself and the Pope happens.

I don't know how this can happen. The Church exists in order to evangelize. To give up missions is to cease to exist.

Read more.


CherBear said...

I've read or heard something about this before - the tension that exists between Catholic and Orthodox missionaries and churches in Russia. I would think the problem would stem from a feeling that the Church is trying to convert Orthodox Christians, which (correct me if I'm wrong) the Church discourages us from doing.

If we look at this from the standpoint that the Orthodox Church is a fully valid Church with her own bishops, then what's another bishop (a Roman bishop) doing mucking around in the same See uninvited? From their standpoint we're behaving as though the authority of an Orthodox bishop is not of the same sort as a Catholic bishop, and if we're not willing to concede equivalent authority, then there's not much reconciliation that can take place.

More than this, it would seem that given what I understand to be the Church's current stance toward Orthodox Churches - fully valid Sacraments such that their priests are priests, their Eucharist is the Eucharist, their bishops are bishops - we are indeed infringing on their authoritative territory from our perspective as well as theirs.

Of course, the pope CAN (though I suspect he rarely does) tell a bishop he has to put up with something, but I can't imagine a current pope telling a bishop to let another bishop mess around in his diocese.

Marcel said...

The missions are to those who are no longer practicing their faith. The Catholic Church does not actively seek to convert people from the Orthodox Church. Hence, the Catholic Church sees nothing wrong with what we are doing.

Anonymous said...

But shouldn't the Church try to convert the Orthodox, since they are outside the Church, because of schism? Isn't the teaching of the faith that outside of the Catholic Church there is no salvation?

Anonymous said...

But shouldn't the Church try to convert the Orthodox, since they are outside the Church, because of schism? Isn't the teaching of the faith that outside of the Catholic Church there is no salvation?

Marcel said...

"Outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation" does not mean a formal relationship with the Catholic Church.

Catechism teaches in paragraphs 846-848

"Outside the Church there is no salvation"

846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? 335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it. 336

847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation. 337

848 "Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men."

Anonymous said...

So as soon as we start associating "the Church" with some entity other than the CATHOLIC Church, don't we effectively undermine the entire idea of their being one true Church? Even if invincible ignorance is at work amongst the Orthodox, which could be debated ad nauseum, the Catholic Church still has an obligation in charity to try and convert these people to bring them out of the darkness of schism, right? Are Othodox Christians somehow less deserving of our missionary efforts than are Protestants, Muslims, or true blue heathens? Evangelism is perhaps the greatest spiritual work of mercy we can perform, why would we deny it to anyone, especially those who already love Christ, and seek to love Him more perfectly?

Marcel said...

But, the Orthodox are a true "Church". The recent document on the nature of the Church, Vatican II's Lumen Gentium and much more have made this abundantly clear. They aren't just another Christian group. They have true Sacraments and Bishops. Thus, we can't just treat them as others.

Should we seek to evangelize them as well. Yes. Everyone, including you and I, are needing evangelization.

Anonymous said...

No matter how we slice the pie, though, the Orthodox are in schism. Yes they have valid orders, yes they have valid sacraments, no one has ever denied that. But they are in schism, and according to the very definition of the word, are not in communion with Christ's Church, which is the Catholic Church. Also it must be remembered that for every single Orthodox church, there is a corresponding Uniate church, in communion with the See of Peter. Furthermore most of these Uniate Catholics have suffered real persecution throughout the ages for their fidelity to the true faith. They serve as a witness and an example of what ought to be for the Orthodox. So yes, all people are in need of evangelization and all are in need of constant conversion, but there is a difference that is categorical, not just in degree, between the evangelization that Catholics need and the evangelization that should be offered to the Orthodox. No they should not be treated as protestants, or other ecclesial communities who cannot be considered churches because of the absence of Orders, but they should also not be treated as Catholics, because they are not. So, then what sort of evangelization should the Orthodox receive? I hope that I'm carrying on this conversation with charity, and if I've offended you in any way, I apologize. There are real issues at hand here, I believe, and I do appreciate your willingness to address them in a friendly dialogue.

Marcel said...

There is no offense taken. I am in no way trying to play down the fact that the Orthodox may be in schism. I also don't want to play down the fact that they are not in full communion with the Catholic Church. But, the situation is very different than any other group and so our ecumenical efforts must mirror that reality.

I also know that the Uniate churches have faced some of the fiercest persecution of the last 100 years.

When it comes to evangelization, there is a bigger issue. There are souls that need to be saved. The Orthodox are regarded as not being in danger of damnation because of their seperation from Rome, because the individuals alive today are not the cause of the schism. Thus, the plea for evangelization comes to us from Ut Unum Sint from JPII. It says:

98. The ecumenical movement in our century, more than the ecumenical undertakings of past centuries, the importance of which must not however be underestimated, has been characterized by a missionary outlook. In the verse of John's Gospel which is ecumenism's inspiration and guiding motif—"that they may all be one ... so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (Jn 17:21)—the phrase that the world may believe has been so strongly emphasized that at times we run the risk of forgetting that, in the mind of the Evangelist, unity is above all for the glory of the Father. At the same time it is obvious that the lack of unity among Christians contradicts the Truth which Christians have the mission to spread and, consequently, it gravely damages their witness. This was clearly understood and expressed by my Predecessor Pope Paul VI, in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi: "As evangelizers, we must offer Christ's faithful not the image of people divided and separated by unedifying quarrels, but the image of people who are mature in faith and capable of finding a meeting-point beyond the real tensions, thanks to a shared, sincere and disinterested search for truth. Yes, the destiny of evangelization is certainly bound up with the witness of unity given by the Church ... At this point we wish to emphasize the sign of unity among all Christians as the way and instrument of evangelization. The division among Christians is a serious reality which impedes the very work of Christ".

How indeed can we proclaim the Gospel of reconciliation without at the same time being committed to working for reconciliation between Christians? However true it is that the Church, by the prompting of the Holy Spirit and with the promise of indefectibility, has preached and still preaches the Gospel to all nations, it is also true that she must face the difficulties which derive from the lack of unity. When non-believers meet missionaries who do not agree among themselves, even though they all appeal to Christ, will they be in a position to receive the true message? Will they not think that the Gospel is a cause of division, despite the fact that it is presented as the fundamental law of love?

99. When I say that for me, as Bishop of Rome, the ecumenical task is "one of the pastoral priorities" of my Pontificate,157 I think of the grave obstacle which the lack of unity represents for the proclamation of the Gospel. A Christian Community which believes in Christ and desires, with Gospel fervour, the salvation of mankind can hardly be closed to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, who leads all Christians towards full and visible unity. Here an imperative of charity is in question, an imperative which admits of no exception. Ecumenism is not only an internal question of the Christian Communities. It is a matter of the love which God has in Jesus Christ for all humanity; to stand in the way of this love is an offence against him and against his plan to gather all people in Christ. As Pope Paul VI wrote to the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I: "May the Holy Spirit guide us along the way of reconciliation, so that the unity of our Churches may become an ever more radiant sign of hope and consolation for all mankind".

Marcel said...

I will write a post about this question soon. Thanks.