Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Roman Catholic Church is not the One True Church

The Catholic Church is the one true Church. The recent Vatican document on ecumenical relations does not claim this of Roman Catholicism, as certain commentators suggest. In response to one such commentator, David Yonke, I wrote the following letter:

In your article of Sunday, July 22, you repeat an error that has been widespread in media reporting on the recent document from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

You write: "All Christian traditions except Roman Catholicism have “defects,” “wounds,” or are not true churches, according to the controversial document from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith."

The document does not indicate "Roman" Catholicism, but simply "Catholicism." There are more than twenty Catholic Churches in communion with one another. With the Roman Catholic Church being the largest of these Churches and it's Pope being the head of the universal Church, many people are confused into thinking that the Roman Catholic Church and the Catholic Church are the same thing. They are not. If you read more carefully, you'll note that the word "Roman" does not even appear in the document (except in the fourth footnote).

To his credit, Mr. Yonke acknowledged his error, but he then dismissed it, writing, “It is of minor significance, however, when considering the numbers of adherents affected. As you know, the vast majority of Catholics are Roman Catholics.” If small numbers render a Church insignificant, then the Apostolic Church would be least significant of all Churches.

The Roman Catholic Church is not superior to or above the other Catholic Churches. It is equal to them. The Roman Catholic Church’s numbers are by far the greatest, yet greater numbers do not indicate greater importance. As established by the Council of Chalcedon, the Roman pontiff retains the primacy among the patriarchates of the Church. Yet, it is important that the Eastern understanding of the Petrine primacy is as “primus inter pares” (first among equals).


In reference to this, Grégoire III Laham, Patriarch of Antioch of the Melkites, once said, “With all respect for the Petrine office, the patriarchal office is equal to it.” When questioned about this controversial stance Patriarch Grégoire III elaborated:
"Really I always say: I am cum Petro but not sub Petro. If I were sub Petro, I would be in submission, and I couldn’t have a true frank, sincere, strong and free communion with the Pope. When you embrace a friend, you are not “below”. You embrace him from the same height, if not it wouldn’t be a true embrace. Unita manent, (united things last)….

"The papacy, since John XXIII, is the most open authority in the world. In no other Church is there such openness and such democratic praxis as in the Church of Rome. But then there are those who want to appear as the super-Catholics, and they then insist and always only on the sub Petro and sub Roma. And so, according to me, they contradict the true sense of the papacy itself, its office to confirm the brethren in the faith. We have suffered for our communion with Rome. For a hundred and fifty years we have said Mass in the catacombs, in Damascus, because we were forbidden do it in public because of our communion with the bishop of Rome. We’re more Roman than the Romans! That’s why we want to benefit from this communion as from a treasure, a gift, a help for our faith. As Saint John says, our faith is our sole victory."
Patriarch Grégoire III does not here say so, but as Patriarch of Antioch he, too, succeeds St. Peter. Perhaps I will post more on St. Peter's other Church in the future.

28 comments:

Dusty M Brahlek said...

It is interesting that people tend to only see the Roman Catholic Church when dealing with the Catholic Church (including some Catholics). The ignorance of people has stopped suprising me! I mean really. Here are "journalists" that are supposed to check FACTS. Though it seems they do little more or even less fact checking that non-fiction writer such as King!

Also does he mean that because the number of non-Roman Catholics is a small portion, that they do not matter? He can make all the false comments he feels like making just because the Romans out number the Non-Romans? Gee, he sounds like a pointless reporter!

Sorry, I think I am cranky again today...

dave said...

So John, when shall we meet to discuss this commune (see Dusty's blog)? It has always seemed to me a great misfortune that great friendships end up in a diaspora because of work obligations and lack of effort.

Kevin Allen said...

You might be interested in the pod cast interview I did with Dr. Mary Ward, ex-Roman Catholic and professor of theology at Jesuit Fordham University, on why she left the RCC for the Orthodox Church, which considers itself the "one, holy, catholic and apostolic church":
http://audio.ancientfaith.com/illuminedheart/ih_ward.mp3

JonathanCatholic said...

I'm quite frankly very confused how these attitudes and statements and particular theologies coming from Byzantine Catholicism can be reconciled with 1) Some of the infallibly defined articles of Faith that Roman Catholics hold to, and 2) The medieval dogmatic developments regarding the Papacy, such as Pope Boniface VIII declaring unilaterally that "For every creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff is altogether necessary for salvation."

I say this as one coming into the Roman Catholic Church as a convert, and as someone who genuinely and sincerely cares about the Byzantine Churches. I am not ignorant of their existence, I cherish their Tradition; in fact, the Universality (or at least professed universality) of the Catholic Church is what drew me to Catholicism. But I cannot fathom how one can honestly and sincerely believe that you can reconcile the medieval statements of the Papacy regarding itself with statements like that from a Byzantine Patriarch. It's very troubling, and it erects a wall between East and West, as do the Latin infallible declarations on a number of articles of Faith that conflict with Eastern Apostolic Tradition.

John R.P. Russell said...

It is troubling, isn't it?

Venerable Antiquity said...

The “Roman Catholic Church” is the “Catholic Church;” these are equivalent terms. Therefore, the Roman Catholic Church is the One True Church.

(http://venerableantiquity.wordpress.com/2013/09/25/roman-catholic-the-term-and-its-application/)

David Yonke was not incorrect. It is a characteristically Eastern Catholic error to assume that “Roman Catholic” is a reference to the “Roman Rite” and not a reference to “Catholics in communion with Rome,” especially when it is used by a Western Catholic, or non-Catholic.

David Yonke’s original use of “Roman Catholic” should not be taken as a reference to Western Catholicism, the Latin Church, Roman Rite Catholicism, or the particular Church at Rome. It was, in fact, a reference to the entire Catholic Church.

Eastern Catholics often assume that a Western Catholic use of “Roman Catholic” excludes the Eastern Churches, and that the term is thus used out of ignorance or arrogance. In truth, Western Catholics are seldom aware of the existence of the other 22 particular Churches, and as such, it doesn’t even make sense to assume that they intended to refer to anything but the entire Catholic communion. They simply don’t even see the distinctions within Catholicism.

It seems David Yonke’s written response simply reveals his confusion after having been corrected for an error he didn’t make.

“Primus inter pares” may be the Orthodox understanding of Petrine primacy, but it is not the Catholic understanding (to which Eastern Catholics are bound). See CCC 880 – 884. The Pope is the head of the apostolic college; the bishops are both “cum” Petro and “sub” Petro.

John R.P. Russell said...

If the Orthodox understanding of Petrine primacy cannot be maintained by Eastern Catholics in communion with Rome, then I am not in communion with Rome and neither is the Patriarch of the Melkites, which seems to me unlikely.

venerableantiquity said...

Communion with Rome is not a product of private perception; one may have a faulty understanding of ecclesiology and yet be in visible communion with Rome. As you said, the Patriarchs statements are troubling… Perhaps we should reflect upon why that is?

Eastern Catholics believe and profess Eastern “Catholicism”, not Eastern “Orthodoxy”. Our expression of Catholic truth is Eastern, but the truth we profess is indeed Catholic. If the Orthodox do not accept CCC 880 – 884, then the Orthodox are wrong. Eastern Catholics do however, accept Catholic doctrine on the papacy (See CCEO, Title III, Chapter I.).

John R.P. Russell said...

My comment that the Patriarch's statements are troubling was meant comically. They are only troubling to a misinformed Roman ecclesiological mind-set.

venerableantiquity said...

What is at issue is not so-called "Roman" ecclesiology, but Catholic ecclesiology. Eastern Catholic canon law itself attests to the power and primacy of the Bishop of Rome over the entire Church, including the Patriarchs.

John R.P. Russell said...

The CCEO is itself greatly influenced by Roman ecclesiology and it is in need of revision to bring it into conformity with Eastern thinking on this and other matters.

Ric Ballard said...

CCEO was not universally accepted by the bishops of the Eastern churches. Nor was it imposed by Rome as the standard. It was established more as guidelines until unity between the East and West was achieved. There is no such thing as one theological or ecclesiological system in Catholicism, that is anti-catholic. So its wrong to assume that the Latin way is the only way. When it comes to understanding the role of pope from the Eastern Perspective even the last few popes made statements that the office of the papacy can be further developed in order to serve the Whole Church so its wrong to assume that we cant build off of it.

Ric Ballard said...


“”””Eastern Catholics believe and profess Eastern “Catholicism”, not Eastern “Orthodoxy”””””.?????

Well, The simple reality is that Byzantine Catholics are to profess nothing less than same tradition that we had when entered into the Roman church, nothing was to change; only union was to be restored with Rome. Just look at the union treaties we were even to continue with our communion with Constantinople. But things changed and not the way the fathers wished. Now as things are currently the Melkite Patriarch Gregory III says the following:

“The difficulty lies in the fact that Rome is not ready to accept the genuine rights of the Eastern Catholic Churches as proclaimed by Vatican II (OE; n. 5).” Eastern Catholics “have to speak up, to discover the real Eastern ecclesiology and to develop it, and help the Western mentality to mature in that regard.” - Sadly we even have to help our own people mature in this regard.

Akathistos Eastern Christian Spirituality Page said...

"The “Roman Catholic Church” is the “Catholic Church;” these are equivalent terms. Therefore, the Roman Catholic Church is the One True Church.

(http://venerableantiquity.wordpress.com/2013/09/25/roman-catholic-the-term-and-its-application/)

David Yonke was not incorrect. It is a characteristically Eastern Catholic error to assume that “Roman Catholic” is a reference to the “Roman Rite” and not a reference to “Catholics in communion with Rome,” especially when it is used by a Western Catholic, or non-Catholic."

Venerable Antiquity, it is this kind of offensive chauvinism that we Greek Catholics have had to tolerate from the Eastern Orthodox. It is patently incorrect to call us Roman Catholics. We are Catholic, but we are not now and never have been ROMAN. The Orthodox, even today, when they are not busy calling us Uniates, which is a pejorative term for us, will call us Roman Catholics, which is also pejorative. We are proud to be united to Rome as the see of Peter, but we have the right not to have the term Roman imposed on us by thoughtless zealots. It is therefore incorrect to say that the terms "Roman Catholic Church," and "Catholic Church" are one and the same. We are Catholic, but NOT Roman. Our unity with the Roman see does not make us Roman. It is what makes us Catholic, as opposed to being Eastern Orthodox apart from a united Church. Please remember that in the future.

venerableantiquity said...

John: In those instances in which the CCEO reproduces Catholic doctrine, no error is possible, and as regards the CCEO itself, no dissent is legitimate; the CCEO is binding. It may conflict with “Eastern” thinking on “this and other matters.” Indeed, it may conflict with “Western” thinking. Neither of these facts are arguments in themselves.

Ric: The CCEO, as promulgated by Pope John Paul II, is the codified law common to the 22 Eastern Catholic Churches; the CCEO does not establish “guidelines,” it lays down the law. Eastern Catholics are bound by it.

Truth is universal, it transcends East and West. Catholicism is true, Eastern Catholic believe that. Catholic doctrine on the Papacy is true, Eastern Catholics believe that as well. “When it comes to understanding the role of pope from the Eastern [Catholic] perspective,” Catholic doctrine must be believed. While doctrine can indeed develop, we must not mistake this for change. Catholic doctrine on the papacy must be accepted by all Catholics, Eastern and Western.

The simple reality is this: Between Catholics and Orthodox there is not a unity of professed and practiced faith, and Eastern Catholics are Catholic.

Maturity is certainly called for: We need to recognize that while Vatican II produced Orientalium Ecclesiarum, it also gave us Lumen Gentium, and the former must be understood in light of the latter.

Akathistos Eastern Christian Spirituality Page: Please read the blog post I cited: Eastern Catholics, in that we are in communion with the bishop of Rome, are “Roman Catholics.” Set aside the emotive reaction and recognize the etymology, the official usage, and the common understanding. There is no imposition… there is only a simple reality, “Roman Catholic” and “Catholic” refer to the same, as I demonstrated in my post.

John R.P. Russell said...

Joshua Solomon writes, “In those instances in which the CCEO reproduces Catholic doctrine, no error is possible.”
The question remains: In which instances does the CCEO reproduce Catholic doctrine? In many instances, no doubt, but not in all. The CCEO, general councils of the West (including Vatican II), and papal statements in no way contradict Catholic doctrine, but they are not capable, by themselves, of defining or expressing Catholic doctrine. Catholic doctrine, as St. Vincent of Lérins says, is that “which has been believed everywhere, always, by all.” Taken ad absurdam, this excludes most doctrines, but taken in its proper spirit it excludes all those doctrines that the Eastern Churches have never believed.
The CCEO reproduces certain doctrines formulated and believed only in the West. These doctrines are not “Catholic” in the strict sense of the term. Again, when properly and charitably understood, these doctrines do not contradict Catholic doctrine, but that does not make them Catholic without qualification. They are certainly Western Catholic (to use your term) doctrines.

When it comes to theologoumena, all kinds of error is possible, and that is okay. We’re not meant to know everything and we are free to have opinions. The trouble is when we assert our opinions as if they are revealed truth. I believe that every single contradiction between Eastern and Western doctrine is a difference of theological opinion about issues that are not revealed. The most common error seems to be to regard a theologoumenon as a dogma.
Perhaps I should clarify my usage of some terms. By “dogma,” I mean that which God has divinely revealed to his Church – those truths we know by faith. “Doctrines,” on the other hand, are teachings, which change, develop, and may even contradict insofar as they deal with theological opinions (theologoumena).

Truth is indeed universal, as you write, but we know much less of it than we like to pretend. Eastern Catholics do indeed believe Catholic doctrine, as you write, but “Catholic doctrine” is that substantial doctrine about which Eastern and Western Catholics agree. They do not agree about many secondary doctrines. For example, they agree on the primacy of the bishop of Rome (which may be a primary doctrine – a Catholic doctrine), but they do not always agree on how that primacy may be exercised (which is a secondary doctrine – an opinion). Neither Christ nor his Church strives to bring about universality of opinion.

venerableantiquity said...

John: You cannot ignore the latter half of the quote you’ve cited, “…as regards the CCEO itself, no dissent is legitimate; the CCEO is binding.”

CCEO 598 – 600 preclude the dissent you propose.

With reference to the former half of the quote, and your analysis of it, I would point out that the Magisterium simply cannot be rejected by Eastern Catholics. The latter 14 Ecumenical Councils not only “express” Catholic doctrine, they set it forth definitively and authoritatively. Neither Papal nor conciliar authority, as exercised even in the West, can be dismissed.
Regarding the appeal to the “Vincentian Canon,” we are also reminded by the same, that Catholic is, in times of schism, to “prefer the healthiness of the whole body to the morbid and corrupt limb.”

Formulation and belief only in the West would not (and does not) render a teaching of the Catholic Church questionable. The reality of the separation between East and West is tragic, but the Catholic Church remains the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, possessed of all of the authority granted to it by Christ when he established Peter as head of the apostolic college and built his Church upon him.

You may believe that “every single contradiction between Eastern [if by that you mean Orthodox] and Western [if by that you mean Catholic] doctrine is a difference of theological opinion about issues that are not revealed,” but that is not so. For example, papal infallibility is not a “theologoumenon,” it is a dogma.

We know that that which the Catholic Church teaches as truth, is truth. We, as individual persons may “…know much less of it [truth] than we like to pretend,” but we need not, and cannot, doubt the teaching authority of the Catholic Church.

Catholic doctrine is not defined by, or limited to, that which is” accepted by” any Catholic, Eastern or Western; rather, it is that doctrine which the Catholic Church teaches to Catholics, which must then be believed by them.

Theological articulations and emphases may differ, but between Eastern and Western Catholics there must be a unity of faith.

John R.P. Russell said...

By your definition of “Catholic,” Joshua, I am not Catholic and do not want to be. The true Catholic Church – the one Church of Jesus Christ – includes the Orthodox. You may believe it does not, but it does. I sincerely hope that you are not referring to the Orthodox as “a morbid and corrupt limb.”
There is no schism between Catholics and the Orthodox. There in fact is a unity of faith between Eastern and Western Catholicism and Orthodoxy. The divisions are caused by arrogances and exaggerations, not substantive differences of faith.

Ric Ballard said...

What I don’t understand Mr. Solomon is the fact that you were once a protestant and you had been received into the Catholic church through chrismation in a Byzantine church. Canon 35 of the CCEO specifically says that unless there are special circumstances, meaning that there are no other Catholic churches around, you must first be received in a Roman church since protestant churches are off shoots of the Latin tradition. Most Byzantine priests that I know ignore this canon but according to you the law is binding. How did you find yourself in exceptional circumstances where the law does not apply to you?

venerableantiquity said...

John:

“I” did not, and do not, define “Catholic.” Per the Catholic Church, not Joshua Solomon, the one true Church of Christ is the Catholic Church:

“This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd, and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority, which He erected for all ages as ‘the pillar and mainstay of the truth.’ This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.” (Lumen Gentium, I. 8. §2.)

http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html

As for the suggestion that Vatican II “changed” Catholic doctrine on the Church, or that the use of “subsists in” somehow suggests that the Catholic Church is not the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church:

“Did the Second Vatican Council change the Catholic doctrine on the Church?” (CDF, Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church, Q.1.)

“The Second Vatican Council neither changed nor intended to change this doctrine, rather it developed, deepened and more fully explained it… This was exactly what John XXIII said at the beginning of the Council. Paul VI affirmed it and commented in the act of promulgating the Constitution Lumen gentium: ‘There is no better comment to make than to say that this promulgation really changes nothing of the traditional doctrine. What Christ willed, we also will. What was, still is. What the Church has taught down through the centuries, we also teach. In simple terms that which was assumed, is now explicit; that which was uncertain, is now clarified; that which was meditated upon, discussed and sometimes argued over, is now put together in one clear formulation’. The Bishops repeatedly expressed and fulfilled this intention.” (CDF, Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church, A.1.)

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070629_responsa-quaestiones_en.html

“Contrary to many unfounded interpretations, therefore, the change from ‘est’ to ‘subsistit’ does not signify that the Catholic Church has ceased to regard herself as the one true Church of Christ.” (CDF, Commentary on the Document: Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church, ¶17.)

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070629_commento-responsa_en.html

The Orthodox do not, in fact, belong to the one true Church of Christ.

I merely cited St. Vincent of Lérins, who was apparently not fond of schism; “I” did not refer to the Orthodox at all.

The Orthodox certainly are in schism, as schism is “the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.” (CIC 751)

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P2H.HTM

There is not a unity of faith between Catholics and Orthodox; again, consider the dogmatic deliverances of Vatican I, and the Orthodox rejection of them. Arrogance surely plays a part in the schism, but as a result of that schism, there are “substantive differences of faith.”

John R.P. Russell said...

Joshua,

I didn’t mean to imply that you alone thus define “Catholic.” Certainly, many of the Latin tradition share your definition – as you have well documented. Words, however, do not have absolute meanings – you must have noticed that one word can carry several definitions and mean one thing to one group while meaning something else to another group. At any rate, you may be assured that the Orthodox do call themselves “Catholic” and that they do not mean the same thing by it as you do. Of course, you could insist, like a semantic autocrat, that their definition is “wrong.” Nonetheless, there it is and you’re not going to make it go away. Furthermore, I agree with them and oppose any definition of “Catholic” that would exclude the Orthodox.

You write, “The Orthodox do not, in fact, belong to the one true Church of Christ.” Yet, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that

“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” (Dominus Iesus, 17)

So, it seems to me that the Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Orthodox Churches do indeed belong to the true Church of Christ. There is, after all, only one Church of Christ, and that is the true one, which “is present and operative” in the Orthodox Churches. Now, the Roman Catholic document Dominus Iesus apparently agrees with your definition of “Catholic Church,” but it seems to disagree with your notion that this excludes the Orthodox, who “remain united to her” – that is, to the “single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church.” How this union can be simultaneously described as “imperfect” and “by means of the closest bonds” is mystifying. If our bonds could be no closer – they are the “closest” of bonds – how is it possible for our communion to become more perfect? Well, all it would take would be for us to acknowledge the already present reality of our union. Communion is union. There is no schism. If the Orthodox Churches are true Churches, as the Roman Catholic Church teaches they are, and if there is only one true Church, as all Orthodox Christians believe, then there is no schism.

“How we can possibly discover the doctrinal and theological resources that could justify or indeed make certain our division. This is not a moral question—how do we dare to remain disunited?—but a purely canonical one: are we sure that we are? For, if not, then our division is simply sin, a habit of desire and thought that feeds upon nothing but its own perverse passions and immanent logic, a fiction of the will, and obedience to a lie.” – David Bentley Hart, from “The Myth of Schism.”

venerableantiquity said...

Your point is well taken, John, words are indeed understood differently in different contexts and among different crowds. I understand that the Orthodox call themselves “catholic,” in the sense that the Orthodox Church argues for its own universality. That is not to say, however, that the Orthodox claim to belong to the “Catholic Church.” They do not, in fact. (There is an important distinction to be maintained between “Catholic” and “catholic.”)

As “Dominus Iesus, 17.” itself states, “…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…”

In the preceding paragraph, the reason for this articulation was clarified:

“...With the expression subsistit in, the Second Vatican Council sought to harmonize two doctrinal statements: on the one hand, that the Church of Christ, despite the divisions which exist among Christians, continues to exist fully only in the Catholic Church, and on the other hand, that ‘outside of her structure, many elements can be found of sanctification and truth’, that is, in those Churches and ecclesial communities which are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church. But with respect to these, it needs to be stated that ‘they derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church’.” (Dominus Iesus, 16. §3.)

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000806_dominus-iesus_en.html

The “Church of Christ” exists fully “only in the Catholic Church.”

It does not follow that “if the Orthodox Churches are true Churches, as the Roman Catholic Church teaches they are, and if there is only one true Church, as all Orthodox Christians believe, then there is no schism.”

Further CDF commentary is relevant here:

“The Bishop is a visible source and foundation of the unity of the particular Church entrusted to his pastoral ministry. But for each particular Church to be fully Church, that is, the particular presence of the universal Church with all its essential elements, and hence constituted after the model of the universal Church, there must be present in it, as a proper element, the supreme authority of the Church: the Episcopal College ‘together with their head, the Supreme Pontiff, and never apart from him’… The liturgy expresses this reality in various ways, showing, for example, that every celebration of the Eucharist is performed in union not only with the proper Bishop, but also with the Pope, with the episcopal order, with all the clergy, and with the entire people. Every valid celebration of the Eucharist expresses this universal communion with Peter and with the whole Church, or objectively calls for it, as in the case of the Christian Churches separated from Rome.” (CDF, “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of the Church Understood as Communion,” 13. & 14.)

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_28051992_communionis-notio_en.html

The valid episcopate and valid Eucharist, which the Orthodox Churches admittedly possess, objectively call for the Orthodox to return to communion with Peter and the whole Church, because the Orthodox Churches are not “fully Church,” as they are not in full and visible communion with Rome, and are thus separated from the one true Church.

venerableantiquity said...

Ric: See CCEO 23.

John R.P. Russell said...

Joshua,

Your claim that the Orthodox do not claim to belong to the Catholic Church is plainly false. For example:

"The Orthodox Church also believes that, because it has all the proper attributes, the Orthodox Church is the living realization of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church." - Fr. John Morris

from an article worth reading: An Orthodox Response to the Recent Roman Catholic Declaration on the Nature of the Church

venerableantiquity said...

John: As I said above, “I understand that the Orthodox call themselves ‘catholic,’ in the sense that the Orthodox Church argues for its own universality. That is not to say, however, that the Orthodox claim to belong to the ‘Catholic Church…’”

The Orthodox Church regards itself as the “catholic Church,” in that “catholic” is understood to mean “universal,” but recognizes that it is not visibly united with the “Catholic Church” (that is, the “Roman Catholic Church”).

Yes, the Orthodox claim to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. No, the Orthodox do not claim to belong to the “Catholic Church,” and that Catholic Church does not recognize the Orthodox as part of the one true Church:

“Fully incorporated into the society of the [Catholic] Church are those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, accept all the means of salvation given to the Church together with her entire organization, and who - by the bonds constituted by the profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government, and communion - are joined in the visible structure of the Church of Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops…” (CCC 837)

John R.P. Russell said...

Joshua,

You (together with others) characterize the "Roman Catholic Church" as all those Churches in full and visible union with Rome.

Most of the Orthodox would agree with that characterization, I expect. I (together with most Byzantine Catholics) disagree with you.

You (together with others) regard "Catholic Church" as equivalent to "Roman Catholic Church."

Here, the Orthodox, most Byzantine Catholics, and I all disagree with you.

Yes, the Orthodox do claim to belong to the Catholic Church. They do not claim to belong to the Roman Catholic Church. Your failure to acknowledge that distinction is tripping you up when you try to express the Orthodox self-understanding.

The distinction between "Catholic" and "catholic" is absurd, especially in speech.

Incidentally, the definition of "catholic" as "universal" is not emphasized by the Orthodox, who instead emphasize its meaning of "fullness" or "wholeness," which is to say that they possess the fullness of the faith and live the fullness of the Church. In Eastern ecclesiology, as I understand it, the whole church, which is the body of Christ, is present wherever there is bishop and Eucharist.

"Where the bishop is, there is the Church" -St. Ignatius of Antioch

John R.P. Russell said...

Joshua,

You write, "[The] Catholic Church does not recognize the Orthodox as part of the one true Church."

Yet, you have read that the Roman Catholic Church itself calls the Orthodox "Churches."

Since there is only one true Church, all those who are properly called "Churches" must be included in the one true Church.

Athanasius said...

John,

The confusion is simply the result of the use of “Catholic” and “Orthodox” as “denominational” titles. The Catholic Church claims to be “orthodox” as well, but this doesn’t amount to an admission that the Catholic Church is equivalent to the “Orthodox Church.”

My point was simply this:

While the Orthodox Church claims to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, this does not mean that the Orthodox believe that they are “in full communion with the Church of Rome, and therefore those Churches in communion with her.”

Your quote from St. Ignatius is more accurately rendered: “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 (καθολικὴ ἐκκλησία).” (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyneans, 8.)

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0109.htm

Yes I wrote that "[the] Catholic Church does not recognize the Orthodox as part of the one true Church,” and I quoted the Catechism which itself attests to that reality: “Fully incorporated into the society of the Church are those who… are joined in the visible structure of the Church of Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops…” (CCC 837)

It does not follow that “all those who are properly called ‘Churches’ must be included in the ‘one true Church’.” The Orthodox “sister Churches” do not enjoy full communion with the “mother Church,” the Catholic Church. The fact that the Orthodox Churches possess elements of the Church of Christ impels them to full unity with the Catholic Church, it does not imply that such unity already exists:

“Every valid celebration of the Eucharist expresses… universal communion with Peter and with the whole Church, or objectively calls for it, as in the case of the Christian Churches separated from Rome.” (CDF, “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of the Church Understood as Communion,” 13. & 14.)

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