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Struggling with the Orthodox / Catholic Schism

Alveus Lacuna

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I just don't see any substantial reasons for the divisions anymore. I really don't. But I feel a pressure in Orthodoxy to believe that it alone possesses the "fullness of faith" or whatever. I see the divide between Eastern Orthodox/Oriental Orthodox/Roman Catholicism as basically being churches that all share the same faith in substance and essence, but that are in deficient in that they lack the prayers and perspective of the other churches they are disunited from.

I know this post doesn't change anything or really matter. I'm just kind of venting and feeling internally divided. I guess I'm wondering if all of the inconvenience and struggle of maintaining Orthodoxy in my area is really worth it if the Catholic church down the road has valid sacraments and an entire local culture to plug in to (schools, community events, etc.). It's not that Orthodoxy is unfulfilling, it's that maintaining a separation just feels unnecessary to me at this point.

Does anyone else here feel the same way?
 

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I have felt the same way in the past from the Roman side of the divide, but I do not anymore. I say this as someone who is still, at least nominally, Catholic, but if I'm honest with myself, much more Orthodox in temperament. The things you mention, like plentiful parishes, schools, events, groups, etc, are indeed all nice, but at the end of the day, I just don't believe what the bulk of the Catholics I know believe. The closeness in belief between Catholicism and Orthodoxy seems to me to be on paper more than real in many ways; the level of ignorance of basic doctrine among Catholics is pretty alarming, and I am always uncomfortable about the enthusiasm so many people have for private revelations. The papacy is absolutely central to Catholic doctrine, and inextricably so. At least on paper, the Catholic Church also believes it alone possesses the "fullness of faith"; it's the Orthodox who are deficient from their side.

I think it is certainly true that the Churches being separated is an impoverishment in perspective – it has definitely contributed to the chauvinism with respect to each other's traditions that has sadly been so common over the centuries. I don't think that there is an answer to the schism this side of eternity – it's beyond human ability to heal. While I do think there can only be "one true Church," I also don't think it's a necessary corollary to add that those outside the visible boundaries of that Church are utterly devoid of grace and divine help. How that all works out with respect to the dogmatics of the various communions I don't pretend to know.
 

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Alveus Lacuna said:
Does anyone else here feel the same way?
Sort of. I think most of the hot-button on-paper issues (e.g. filioque) are not that substantial and easily resolvable. Papal supremacy is a real problem though it's easy to see how it grew out of considerations that were sensible and even orthodox in the chaotic context of Western Europe. But even with all the attempts to soften this dogma, heavyhandedness and authoritarianism seem to be really ingrained in every corner of the Catholic church, whether people expect Rome or the local archbishop to do everything. This is not necessarily an insurmountable problem and Orthodoxy has had plenty authoritarian moments in its own history.

What really gives me pause is the way Catholicism looks on the ground. On the one hand, the devastation of the liturgy and the penetration of the worst and most banal aspects of modernism into pretty much every level of the church; on the other hand, the trad circles committed to the most indefensible historical triumphalism. And even the trads seem largely indifferent to things that happened before the 16th century. Right before the Super Bowl this year, my Catholic family on facebook were approvingly sharing pictures of a local (Philly) deacon giving the sermon in a dog mask (Eagles= underdogs, get it?). This sort of attitude seems really common. Every Latin Catholic service I've attended in my area- masses, weddings, confirmations- has just been atrocious, with the exception of my one cousin's wedding that was done at a trad parish, and one Latin mass I attended at another trad parish. At these latter services I felt a sense of ghettoization which was in its own way lamentable.

Having a widespread, common culture in the area is a big draw.  But shortage of Catholic priests combined with the huge parishes seems to prevent any possibility of the parish priest getting to know more than a handful of his parishioners. Everyone else is just a number. I like that I can go to an Orthodox parish and most everyone knows everyone else. This may just be the result of being a small, minority religion (maybe in Russia or Greece parishioners are just as faceless) but it's something I would miss a lot.
 

Alveus Lacuna

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Thanks for the thoughtful responses. It's not that I think Catholicism possesses anything essential that I'm lacking, it's just that I guess I feel like it fundamentally also offers everything that I have in Orthodoxy. Basically that it's a different historical and cultural manifestation of the same faith.
 

Alveus Lacuna

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Iconodule said:
Right before the Super Bowl this year, my Catholic family on facebook were approvingly sharing pictures of a local (Philly) deacon giving the sermon in a dog mask (Eagles= underdogs, get it?). This sort of attitude seems really common.
I get it. I really do. My Orthodox friend took his mom to Easter mass last year at the nearest Catholic church in St. Louis, and the priest illustrated the resurrection by having a drone fly "up" inside the church. Also, the homily was given with a puppet. Same service. I don't remember the rationale behind the puppet, just that it was mentioned. Hopefully it was brief.

Despite this kinds of antics, it doesn't change the fundamental truth of what the Catholic church is. Just that they are going through a horrible period right now. But I really do think it's temporary. But who knows.
 

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Alveus Lacuna said:
I just don't see any substantial reasons for the divisions anymore.
For me, the game-stopper is a combination of the Catholic Church's dogmas of Papal Supremacy and Papal Infallibility.

Papal supremacy essentially makes the Pope into the bishop of all bishops. And Papal Infallibility makes it so that once all the bishops accept an announcement that the Pope makes on behalf of the church, it becomes "infallible". Yet even past popes as late as the 19th century objected to Papal Infallibility.

The practical problem is that as a result of these two dogmas, were our two churches to reunite, we would be unable to disagree with anything that the Pope directed us to do. It effectively would make us like one of the "Eastern Catholic Churches", who accept all Roman Catholic dogmas and RC Ecumenical Councils. So if the Pope told us that we must accept the Theology of the Immaculate Conception of Mary or Charismatic movement because he accepts them and they have been confirmed by the "whole church's" bishops (or some other such teaching that we lack), then we would have to accept them as well.

To do otherwise would be comparable to Eastern Catholic bishops reuniting with Moscow as one church, but then saying that they disagree with the scope of authority and decisions of the Moscow Patriarch. Or it could be like you joining a Greek church but then deciding that you are going to do everything like a very conservative ROCOR parishioner and teach that the Gregorian calendar is wrong. When you add in the concept of "infallibility" of the Pope, reunion becomes even tougher than that, unfortunately.

This is why I find the RC concepts of papal supremacy and infallibility to be the toughest roadblocks in practice to reunion. Unfortunately, it doesn't give us room to disagree with RC teachings and papal authority over us.
 

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^Basically this. While I've been softening my certain stances I don't think present ecumenical situation warrants any kind of communion. Even more, is actually irrelevant whether RCs have valid sacraments or not. They clearly have not kept the Tradition as alive as all sorts of Orthodox have done. To be in communion with Rome would be diverging from Tradition kept by Fathers. While the Pope Emeritus was still the Pope I had some hopes that RCs might rebuild their church. But the dream died with his retirement.
 

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Councils Vatican I and II, plus the can of worms the latter opened, made particularly Roman Catholic stuff absurd. Maybe I'd have more doubts if none of that had happened, but I don't see how God would let his church go that way, they're clearly completely out of pace with the Early Church. I see these councils, specially the second, as signs of the gracelessness of the Roman Catholic Church, rather than reasons.

It would be nice to have a large and amazingly beautiful church literally down the road, to be able to enjoy a diversity of ministries, to have a hall of saints of both my countries (Brazil and Portugal) and to go on camps with people of the same faith and age, which I would have if I were Catholic, but I love my own Orthodox community enough and see it as very supportive, and I feel at home in other churches plus having a dozen friends of the same faith and age. If it weren't so (I'm sure it's not so for too many Orthodox in the West), it would be a struggle, but one worth taking given the awful state of the Roman Catholic Church. Big nothing that there's such an amazing Jesuit church in a second-minute walk if they're most probably singing the latest gospel tunes, commemorating the heretic Papacy and simply not having the body and blood of Christ.
 
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While I believe Catholics have salvation in their church with the same commitment as we do, it would not be good for us to have communion as things stand.
 

NicholasMyra

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Alveus Lacuna said:
I just don't see any substantial reasons for the divisions anymore. I really don't. But I feel a pressure in Orthodoxy to believe that it alone possesses the "fullness of faith" or whatever. I see the divide between Eastern Orthodox/Oriental Orthodox/Roman Catholicism as basically being churches that all share the same faith in substance and essence, but that are in deficient in that they lack the prayers and perspective of the other churches they are disunited from.

I know this post doesn't change anything or really matter. I'm just kind of venting and feeling internally divided. I guess I'm wondering if all of the inconvenience and struggle of maintaining Orthodoxy in my area is really worth it if the Catholic church down the road has valid sacraments and an entire local culture to plug in to (schools, community events, etc.). It's not that Orthodoxy is unfulfilling, it's that maintaining a separation just feels unnecessary to me at this point.

Does anyone else here feel the same way?
I think you're right, as Iconodule said, about the "hot button issues."

For me, though, in my area, at least some Orthodox people aren't smarmy. But every RC under age 70 I know has absorbed evangelical smarm (dont know any trads). And I'm deathly allergic to smarm, however theologically irrelevant or substanceless you might think it is.
 

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Alveus Lacuna said:
I just don't see any substantial reasons for the divisions anymore. I really don't.
Agreed. From the "other side", I believe and hope with all my heart that our generation will see the end of the schism. The Churches have signed a joint statement about the Filioque, and the expression, from the Father through the Son; and about Christology and the union of divinity and humanity in the Person of the Incarnate Word. Nothing then remains of the original reasons for the breach; nothing would so greatly bolster the common cause of Christendom in this world as the full re-union of the Churches. Let the defeatists say what they want. I believe it can and should and will happen. It would be a great present to Christ if we can accomplish re-union before 2033, the second millenial anniversary of the Redemption; healing this wound in His mystical body while commemorating His physical and Eucharistic being given up and broken for us. Or else at least by 2054, the anniversary of the unfortunate schism. There's no reason to allow it to last more than a 1000 years.

As for Papal primacy, some on this forum have spoken of "appelate jurisdiction" - where different local Churches would appeal to Rome or ask for a synodal decision should disputes arise - as the ancient canons of Sardica laid down and everybody agrees was followed in the ancient Church even before that. Pope Benedict wrote as a private theologian some years ago that something along those lines could be acceptable. The primacy itself is one thing, and the mode of its exercise is another.
 

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Though all popes since PVI have stated that they consider their office to be the greatest impediment to reunion with the Eastern Orthodox Church, it was PP JPII and BXVI who made great inroads toward a rapprochement.  Probably because one lived in a country with a significant Orthodox population and the other is one of the greatest theologians alive.  Unfortunately, the failure by PP FI to follow through and build on what he inherited doesn't bode well to reunion, hinting that though one pope is friendly towards the East, another may be indifferent or even cold.

Lord, have mercy.
 

rakovsky

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Xavier said:
As for Papal primacy, some on this forum have spoken of "appelate jurisdiction" - where different local Churches would appeal to Rome or ask for a synodal decision should disputes arise - as the ancient canons of Sardica laid down and everybody agrees was followed in the ancient Church even before that. Pope Benedict wrote as a private theologian some years ago that something along those lines could be acceptable. The primacy itself is one thing, and the mode of its exercise is another.
However you exercise the principle, it's still a game stopper, because it makes the pope a sometimes infallible "bishop of bishops". Under the papal supremacy and infallibility system, one cannot agree to disagree, because the pope is the head in matters of faith. Imagine an orthodox wife marrying a catholic husband whereby the husband as head of the household teaches that he is the infallible judge of what his family, including his orthodox wife, believes. It goes back to the principle in the Bible against being unequally yoked with nonbelievers, because under the papal supremacy and infallibilty system, the orthodox wife would not be allowed by her husband, her head, to disagree in his idea of the marriage.
 

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NicholasMyra said:
For me, though, in my area, at least some Orthodox people aren't smarmy. But every RC under age 70 I know has absorbed evangelical smarm (dont know any trads). And I'm deathly allergic to smarm, however theologically irrelevant or substanceless you might think it is.
Right. I think some trads have this dream that, once the boomers die off, the smarm will fade with them, but it's clear that newer generations have accepted the smarm and amplified it with their own additions. Many seem to sincerely love it. Even when they don't, though, the force of inertia is extremely powerful in itself.
 

Alveus Lacuna

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By "smarmy", are you all referring to the saccharine, affected faux-"enthusiasm" some of these people have? Kind of that fake, smiley culture that is supposed to express sincerity and emotional investment?
 

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Iconodule said:
NicholasMyra said:
For me, though, in my area, at least some Orthodox people aren't smarmy. But every RC under age 70 I know has absorbed evangelical smarm (dont know any trads). And I'm deathly allergic to smarm, however theologically irrelevant or substanceless you might think it is.
Right. I think some trads have this dream that, once the boomers die off, the smarm will fade with them, but it's clear that newer generations have accepted the smarm and amplified it with their own additions. Many seem to sincerely love it. Even when they don't, though, the force of inertia is extremely powerful in itself.
+ 3141592653589793238

I can say that this has been my experience. The fundamental problems of embracing Evangelicalism aren't something that's solely practiced by a significant portion of the clergy; it's a fundamental problem that a significant amount of practicing Catholics have embraced.

I'm a university student who participates in one of my University's Newman Center's Bible Studies - and my goodness; with the exception of one person, who likes traditional Mass but is perfectly fine with the more Evangelical direction that church has taken, almost all of these students have this mindset of anything traditional being Pharisaical and anything traditional being against what Christ wanted, but really what those "crusading Protestant burning inquisitors" invented. It's something "we must get rid of."

They also have so little catechism that they couldn't - any of them - figure out the symbolism of Moses and Elijah during the Transfiguration, and they have so little that they don't realize that they are blaspheming not only the Church Fathers, but their own saints like Padre Pio and John Bosco.

I think the worst part of them not having much catechism is the fact that they believe nothing is objective except what their church tells them; they believe that the Pope is the absolute arbitrator of objective morality and dogmatic teachings, even if it contradicts past Popes, such that if the Pope told them abortion was okay, they would be fine with that change. One student told me that morality didn't exist in the Old Testament until the 10 Commandments, paralleling their faulty reasoning.

Dealing with such people throughout my entire life has made it more difficult to not hold grudges against the Roman Catholic Church, and to not judge these people.
 

Alveus Lacuna

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I've ordered the attached books below to try and get into a more nuanced discussion of some key issues that are still bothering me. Each is supposed to be based in one perspective of the divide, but each is also supposed to be honest with difficult truths and charitable. Hopefully they'll be somewhat helpful.
 

Attachments

Alveus Lacuna

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ErmyCath said:
If you listen to podcasts, I’d suggest this detailed historical study: Paradise and Utopia, https://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/paradiseutopia.

I think you will find that the differences are much greater than some people make it seem.
If there is a specific podcast that addresses something you think I should listen to, I'll gladly oblige. But throwing a podcast about the supposed decline of the West over a thousand year period doesn't seem helpful to me. I'm familiar with the apologetics against the Papacy, and I really don't find them compelling anymore, mainly inaccurate or misrepresentations of Roman positions or their implications.
 

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That podcast isn’t really an apologetic. And it’s not polemical. It’s a history podcast on the main.

I first listened to it when I was Catholic. It didn’t offend my sensibilities at that time.

It’s less polemical than that first book you posted, by the way.
 

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Alveus Lacuna said:
I'm familiar with the apologetics against the Papacy, and I really don't find them compelling anymore, mainly inaccurate or misrepresentations of Roman positions or their implications.
You mean like the issues of papal infallibility and papal supremacy?

I would prefer for these two, typically accommodatable and similar Churches to reunite, but I don't see a practical solution involving papal infallibility and supremacy.
 

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Right before the Super Bowl this year, my Catholic family on facebook were approvingly sharing pictures of a local (Philly) deacon giving the sermon in a dog mask (Eagles= underdogs, get it?). This sort of attitude seems really common.
Maybe Saint Christopher was his favourite saint...lol

 

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Alveus Lacuna said:
By "smarmy", are you all referring to the saccharine, affected faux-"enthusiasm" some of these people have? Kind of that fake, smiley culture that is supposed to express sincerity and emotional investment?
I was trying to decipher that word, Ive never heard it before as far as I can remember.
 

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I don't like this word "divisions", it implies the Church is divided.
 

Alveus Lacuna

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RobS said:
I don't like this word "divisions", it implies the Church is divided.
Embrace the paradox and mystery and stuff. How can One Church be divided? In a schism, does one side immediately cease to be the Church? At what point do they stop being a valid church? Not easy questions to answer.
 

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Alveus Lacuna said:
RobS said:
I don't like this word "divisions", it implies the Church is divided.
Embrace the paradox and mystery and stuff. How can One Church be divided? In a schism, does one side immediately cease to be the Church? At what point do they stop being a valid church? Not easy questions to answer.
But that's assuming that Papal Supremacy is some comparative triviality like azymes or Old Calendarism. I don't see how it is.

From an Orthodox perspective how is it not just as heretical as anything that Luther came up with (and ditto from a Catholic perspective regarding Orthodoxy)?
 

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Dont know of you noticed, but all the mainstream churches seem to relate with each other. I believe its there fear of falling away that leads them into a sort of communion.  I find it funny because all of them seem to word there words in a way to not break from the other. Protectionism at its best.
 

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To a large degree I get this, and I basically think of the situation in complementary terms to what the RC pew missals say ("You're OK by us, but respect your bishops"). Communion, after all, isn't meaningless.

But I'm also not willing to ignore the big bugbears (Vat. I more than II), and — aesthetic arguments aside — every Mass I've attended in recent years has been infused with something that felt a little bit too much like what I left behind when I became Orthodox. I'm not talking East-West nonsense. I guess it's the smarm.

And even though the crazies in our camp make me cringe, I'm definitely not ready to step into the fascism-and-fertility-thermometer brigade that is the RadTrad camp.
 

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Alveus Lacuna said:
I've ordered the attached books below to try and get into a more nuanced discussion of some key issues that are still bothering me. Each is supposed to be based in one perspective of the divide, but each is also supposed to be honest with difficult truths and charitable. Hopefully they'll be somewhat helpful.
I've had the pleasure of visiting Fr. Nichols in his friary by accident.  His book is a very honest and deep delving in Church history by a brilliant scholar.  Reading it was a milestone in my conversion to Orthodoxy.
 

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LivenotoneviL said:
I think the worst part of them not having much catechism is the fact that they believe nothing is objective except what their church tells them; they believe that the Pope is the absolute arbitrator of objective morality and dogmatic teachings, even if it contradicts past Popes, such that if the Pope told them abortion was okay, they would be fine with that change.
Nominalism was born by the Medieval Catholic Church and, in its turn, it born the modern Catholic Church.  Or when the creature overcomes its creator.
 

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rakovsky said:
Xavier said:
As for Papal primacy, some on this forum have spoken of "appelate jurisdiction" - where different local Churches would appeal to Rome or ask for a synodal decision should disputes arise - as the ancient canons of Sardica laid down and everybody agrees was followed in the ancient Church even before that. Pope Benedict wrote as a private theologian some years ago that something along those lines could be acceptable. The primacy itself is one thing, and the mode of its exercise is another.
However you exercise the principle, it's still a game stopper, because it makes the pope a sometimes infallible "bishop of bishops". Under the papal supremacy and infallibility system, one cannot agree to disagree, because the pope is the head in matters of faith. Imagine an orthodox wife marrying a catholic husband whereby the husband as head of the household teaches that he is the infallible judge of what his family, including his orthodox wife, believes. It goes back to the principle in the Bible against being unequally yoked with nonbelievers, because under the papal supremacy and infallibilty system, the orthodox wife would not be allowed by her husband, her head, to disagree in his idea of the marriage.
The expression "bishop of bishops" seems to originate from one of the polemical invectives of Tertullian; not in his Catholic days, where he championed the primacy, but after having lapsed into the Montanist schism. CE: "Tertullian, now lapsed into heresy, fiercely attacks "the peremptory edict", which "the supreme pontiff, the bishop of bishops", has sent forth. The words are intended as sarcasm: but none the less they indicate clearly the position of authority claimed by Rome." Isn't it telling that Tertullian's polemics were directed against the "bishop of bishops" after, not before, he had lapsed? It shows that Rome has always held this authority from the earliest times and it posed no problem to Catholic Christians; only those who for one or more reasons lapsed into heresy or schism like Tertullian in later life had a problem with Rome's authority in the early Church.

We would not necessarily describe the Pope as "bishop of bishops". Rather, the bishops are like judges of a high court, or chief ministers. They judge most cases, of either discipline or doctrine, and rule over most of the faithful directly. But like no nation ever exists with high courts only and without a supreme court having primacy of jurisdiction, or with chief ministers only and without a prme minister, so too it is required that there be one who is head and chief of the bishops; otherwise, the Church would lack unity of government, an essential constitutive element; She would be, for e.g. like many different nations co-existing together; nobody would say the US and Mexico are one single nation or have unity of government. But the 50 states of the us, or the 28 states of India are; because different chief ministers have one prime minister at their head; the many governors have one president as their chief; sure there can be fraternal co-existence between different local Churches, but that is not by any means sufficient by itself to constitute a universal Church. A universal Church requires a universal head just as a single nation requires a national head. God bless.
 

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Sharbel said:
Nominalism was born by the Medieval Catholic Church and, in its turn, it born the modern Catholic Church.  Or when the creature overcomes its creator.
But isn't the gospel big enough to accommodate different cultural, historical, and paradigmatic frameworks? Can we baptize what is good in nominalist thought and sanctify it?
 

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Alveus Lacuna said:
But isn't the gospel big enough to accommodate different cultural, historical, and paradigmatic frameworks? Can we baptize what is good in nominalist thought and sanctify it?
Some stuff just have way too wrong principles. Baptising nominalism would be the Christian version of saying "well, at least Hitler defeated unemployment".
 

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Xavier said:
A universal Church requires a universal head just as a single nation requires a national head. God bless.
Even past popes openly opposed papal infallibility. That you don't seem to recognize how great an obstacle papal supremacy and infallibility, and their consequences for orthodox theology, pose for orthodox to unite with Rome makes it even harder for us to address and resolve these roadblocks.
 

Alveus Lacuna

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rakovsky said:
Even past popes openly opposed papal infallibility.
Any primary quotes you might provide with their source documents? I'm just hoping this isn't in reference to Gregory the Great.

Also, can anyone provide the Greek equivalent term for infallibility? It's a concept that seems foreign to Orthodoxy in my current opinion.
 

LivenotoneviL

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From Pope Sylvester II, who was Pope from 999 - 1003

"Have they been able to show that the Roman bishop’s judgment is greater than God's? I firmly maintain that if the Roman bishop himself shall have sinned against his brother and, though often advised, shall not have listened to the Church, that Roman bishop, I say, is to be considered a heathen and a publican according to the commandment of God. For the loftier the position, the greater the ruin. Even if he declares us unworthy of his communion because none of us will join (him) against the Gospel, he will not be able to separate us from the communion of Christ."

- Letter 214

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b771424;view=1up;seq=333

This was just a couple of years before the 1054 date, so many of the problems between the West and the East were already firmly in place.
 

LivenotoneviL

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One book I highly recommend ANYBODY to read is Michael Whelton's book "Two Paths: Papal Monarchy and Collegial Tradition"

He was a former Catholic convert who was struggling with Vatican II, and he looked into Orthodoxy. You can find the introduction to the book here, where he discusses his journey:
http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/twopaths.aspx

He walks through the history of the 1st millennium Church and the first 7 Ecumenical Councils, as well as the post-schism Roman church, and elaborates why the Orthodox Church has the more objectively correct view of history. It's an excellent read for anybody who is struggling with the schism or those who want to hear an Orthodox perspective.
 

Alveus Lacuna

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Regarding a Greek equivalent of infallibility, in Pastor Aeternus the phrasing in Latin is apparently "magisterium infallibile et solemne" / "the infallible teaching of the leadership" or "the infallible ceremonial office of the headship"? My Latin sucks.

Is there any Greek equivalent in ecclesiastical documents or the patristic corpus?
 

Alveus Lacuna

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LivenotoneviL said:
One book I highly recommend ANYBODY to read is Michael Whelton's book "Two Paths: Papal Monarchy and Collegial Tradition"
I will definitely look into the book during this process of examination. Thanks for the suggestion.
 

Iconodule

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I haven't read the Siecienski book yet but it looks very promising.
 
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