"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

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Friday, 10 January 2014

THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN' by Father Lawrence Farley (borrowed from PRAVMIR.COM January 6th, 2014) & CATHOLIC - ORTHODOX RELATIONS: THE LATEST.

This article is from a Russian Orthodox publication about an incident in front of the Catholic Cathedral of San Juan in Argentina.   It has a significant message and its very existence is also significant.  

It is a Russian Orthodox conviction that Orthodox and Catholics have to get used to each other being on the same side and working together before there can be any theological agreement.   There have been several attempts in history to unite, and they have all come to nothing because true unity is not brought about by specialists, even though their work is important.  True unity is brought about by ecclesial charity that is the outward expression of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church.   
It is this charity upon which unity of belief is based.   When Orthodox and Catholics have one heart and one mind, then, and only then, will they sing the Creed with one voice. For this reason, the Byzantine Liturgy has the kiss of peace before the recitation of the Creed.  For those of us Catholics who know and love Orthodoxy, the schism is simply intolerable.   When Catholics in general know and love Orthodoxy, and when Orthodox know and love Catholicism, then, and only then, will true unity come about.   What better way to "give peace a chance" than to bear witness together in a secular world, and to get to know each other as allies!

Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. Recently I came across a news story that had everything: patriarchal men facing off against earnest feminists who were protesting male oppression and church traditionalism. The story had liberated sexuality, violence, and people screaming in frustration who couldn’t take it any more. It had a conference of 17,000 who gathered at the annual  National Meeting of Women in San Juan, Argentina to discuss violence, gender issues and abortion rights. It had a burning effigy of the Pope, surrounded by crowds chanting slogans. It even had topless women. A journalist’s dream.,
 Why then has it not been all over the news? After al and its very existencel, you can blur the topless parts. Who wouldn’t eat up a story about earnest feminists assembling to discuss and denounce male oppression who find themselves confronted by horrid patriarchal men from the church?

Maybe because the horrid patriarchal men from the church weren’t the ones doing the confronting. It was the women who were doing the confronting, going topless and storming the Roman Catholic cathedral in Podomos, Argentina, the city where the conference was held, to inflict damage upon it in the name of their cause. Last year 500 tried to storm the cathedral. This year it was 7000 feminist troops who tried to storm the building. You can read all about it here. 

In anticipation of this year’s storming, 1500 turned up to defend their San Juan cathedral from damage. The men linked arms in a ring outside to prevent entry. The women responded by going topless, shouting obscenities, molesting them, spitting at them, and spray-painting the faces and bodies of the men. Yep, spray-painting, mostly their faces and crotches, some with Nazi symbols. Oh, and chanting too. What would a feminist protest be without chanting? In this case they chanted, “To the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church, who wants to get between our sheets, we say that we want to be whores, transvestites and lesbians! Legal abortion in every hospital!”

Wow. Like I said, you can’t make this stuff up. What were the men doing when all this physical abuse against their bodies was going on? They were praying the Rosary. Some were weeping.

White bearded oldsters like me may be reminded of a line from Bob Dylan: “There’s a battle outside and it’s ragin’. It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls, for the times they are a-changin’.” Dylan was of course talking about something else entirely (and something then much needed), but the pertinent martial imagery is irresistible when looking for words to describe the current situation. The times they are a-changin’. I have, of course, no crystal ball with which to foretell the future. I cannot tell whether or not the violence accompanying this Conference (which I assume left the organizers of the Conference and the majority of its attendees properly appalled) will continue to escalate as the numbers seem to suggest. It could be that future sessions of such feminist conferences will be happy peaceful affairs, in which quiet thoughtful (and fully-clothed) women ask their Christian male friends to sit down at the table of serenity and joint-dialogue. But I am not betting our church’s building fund on it.

The issue of course is larger than this annual women’s conference, or even about feminist movements in general. Rather the issue is the increasing hostility with which Christians are regarded throughout the world. If you doubt that “hostility” is the right word to use here, ask yourself why this story was not front-page in your town. The media does not want to portray Christians as victims. Everybody knows that Christians are the big, bad guys. Christians have already been designated as The Oppressors, and so cannot ever qualify as The Oppressed. And since the men being oppressed, molested, spit upon, and abused in San Juan were Christians, the media clearly thought that it was better to simply suppress the story entirely. Thus whether one looks at the determination to eliminate opposition to the Gay Rights movement in Russia (much reported), or the escalating incidents of persecution and even martyrdom of Christians throughout the world (much under-reported), the times are a-changin’ for the disciples of Jesus Christ who still cling to the traditional Faith once delivered to the saints. 

It is, I suppose, to be expected. St. Paul warned us in 2 Thess. 2:3 that before the End a great rebellion would occur. Even if this rebellion turns out not to be that rebellion, St. Paul’s words still apply, for he also warned us that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12). Some may decry this is alarmist. I rather regard the situation as properly alarming.   At the very least one needs to open one’s eyes wide enough to see that “there’s a battle outside and it’s ragin’”.

 The battle, however, is not new. It is the timeless and perennial struggle between darkness and light, between the Church and the World. Byzantium and the post-Byzantine era, in both east and west, gave us a bit of a break from it, but that break is now over. The times they are a-changin. Let us take up the full armor of God, that we may be able to resist and stand our ground in the evil day.
Source: Orthodox Christian Network 

I have decided to print these two posts together.   It is clear that the Russian Orthodox Church is bringing to the dialogue an already prepared position, one that pre-empts any possibility of agreement between the two sides.   They disagree, not only with the Catholic side, but also with the theologians on both sides who have been working things out in the Catholic-Orthodox dialogue.   However, they are not turning their back on closer relations with the Catholic Church: they are changing the priorities,  from seeking doctrinal agreement to active collaboration in the re-conversion of European society.   I suspect they are right.   Let us work together and grow in love, because it is only within the context of love that the papal position can be properly understood, even by us.

The Russian Veto Against Francis and Bartholomew
The embrace between Rome and Constantinople is renewed. But a document from the patriarchate of Moscow freezes the discussion between Catholics and Orthodox on the powers of the pope over the universal Church 

by Sandro Magister

my source: Sandro Magister 

ROME, January 8, 2014 – Exactly half a century since the embrace in Jerusalem between Paul VI and the patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras, Pope Francis has announced that he too will go to the Holy Land, next May 24-26, to repeat that ecumenical gesture with the successor of Athenagoras, Bartholomew.

On Saturday, January 4, the eve of the anniversary, “L'Osservatore Romano" republished the complete text of the conversation between Paul VI and Athenagoras, intended to remain confidential but recorded by Italian television, which “through a glitch” kept the microphones open.

Paul VI did not remain silent about the crucial point that divides Rome from the East: “the constitution of the Church” and the role of the pope in it.

 He promised Athenagoras:

"I will tell you that which I believe to be exact, derived from the Gospel, from the will of God and from the authentic tradition. I will express it. And in it there will be points that do not coincide with your thought about the constitution of the Church. . . ."

 “I will do the same,” Athenagoras said.

And Paul VI: "We will discuss, we will seek to find the truth. . . No question of prestige, of primacy, that may not be that established by Christ. Absolutely nothing that has to do with honors, with privileges. Let us see what Christ is asking of us and each take his position; but without any human ambition to prevail, to have glory, advantages. But to serve.”


Since that January 5 of 1964 until today, the ecumenical dialogue between Rome and the Churches of the East has made substantial progress. And it has not been afraid to bring into discussion even the burning question of papal primacy.

The foundational document for the exchange on the universal role of the bishop of Rome was finalized in Ravenna in 2007 by a joint team of bishops and theologians called the “joint international commission for the theological dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church":

> Ecclesial Communion, Conciliarity and Authority

This document was unanimously approved by those present. But the Russian Orthodox Church was absent from the meeting in Ravenna because of a dispute with the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople. An important absence, because the Russian Church represents by far the largest part of the entire Orthodox world.

That intra-Orthodox dispute was later smoothed over, and the Russian Church also agreed to take part in the dialogue, on the basis of the Ravenna document and of a subsequent working text on the role of the papacy in the first millennium, drafted in Crete in 2008 by a subcommission.

But at two meetings held in Cyprus in 2009 and in Vienna in 2010, the objections of the Russian Church were so many and of such a nature as to block any reconciliation between the two sides. The Russian delegation asked and obtained that the working text of Crete should be downgraded and rewritten from top to bottom by a new subcommission. And it also expressed substantial criticisms about the document of Ravenna, which in paragraph 41 describes as follows the points of agreement and disagreement between Rome and the East:

"Both sides agree that […] Rome, as the Church that 'presides in love' according to the phrase of St Ignatius of Antioch, occupied the first place in the 'taxis', and that the bishop of Rome was therefore the 'protos' among the patriarchs. They disagree, however, on the interpretation of the historical evidence from this era regarding the prerogatives of the bishop of Rome as 'protos', a matter that was already understood in different ways in the first millennium."

"Protos" is the Greek word that means "first." And "taxis" is the organization of the universal Church.

The rigidity of the Russian Church on papal primacy is all the more striking in that it was accompanied during the pontificate of Benedict XVI by a growing unity of action between Moscow and Rome in the defense of unborn life, the family, religious freedom.

The Russian Church was certainly not pleased by the decision of Joseph Ratzinger, at the beginning of his pontificate, to remove from among the attributes of the pope presented in the Annuario Pontificio that of "patriarch of the West." The Russians in fact saw that move as the latest evidence of the claim of the bishop of Rome to a primacy over the universal Church, without geographical limitations of any kind.

While on the other hand there is a favorable interpretation today, not only by the Russians but by the whole of the Orthodox world, of the insistence of the current pope, Francis, on calling himself simply "bishop of Rome."

For this reason as well, when in the middle of last December Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the pontifical council for Christian unity, went on an official visit to Moscow and Saint Petersburg to meet with Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Hilarion, there were those who prognosticated rapid progress in the dialogue between Rome and Moscow, encouraged by the new pope.

But this is not what happened. Cardinal Koch indeed encountered the "great expectations" placed on Pope Francis. But he reaped only a renewed willingness for a common effort between the two Churches "concerning the defense of the family and the protection of life."

An encounter between the pope and the patriarch of Moscow, the first of history, still seems far from becoming a reality.

As for the primacy of the pope, the patriarchate of Moscow has seen to chilling every illusion of a softening of its opposition.

A few days after Koch returned to the Vatican and at the height of the Christmas celebrations of the Catholic Church, the patriarchy of Moscow made public a document of its own in which it reiterates its disagreement with the Ravenna document and reconfirmes its complete refusal to attribute to the bishop of Rome any sort of power - other than a simply "honorific" one - over the universal Church.

The document - reproduced further below in its salient passages - has been published in Russian and English on the official website of the patriarchate of Moscow:

> Position of the Moscow Patriarchate on the problem of primacy in the Universal Church

The importance of the document is all the greater in that it was approved by the Holy Synod of the patriarchate of Moscow, which met on December 25 and 26, and adopted as "guidance in Orthodox-Catholic dialogue." The delegates of the patriarchate will therefore not be able to depart from it in the future.

And as if to exorcise the fear that the leaders of other Churches could capitulate and submit to the primacy of Rome, the document presents in a footnote a declaration - also intransigent in nature - of the patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, taken from a press conference with him in Bulgaria in November of 2007:

"We all, the Orthodox are convinced that in the first millennium of the existence of the Church, in the times of the undivided Church, the primacy of the bishop of Rome, the pope, was recognized. However, it was honorary primacy, in love, without being legal dominion over the whole Christian Church. In other words, according to our theology, this primacy is of human order; it was established because of the need for the Church to have a head and a coordinating center."

In Jerusalem, in May, Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew will embrace.

From Moscow they have cautioned both of them. With a forceful veto against a papal primacy that is anything more than simply honorific.


From Istanbul, in any case, has come an immediate reaction to the step taken by the patriarchate of Moscow.

Patriarch Bartholomew has invited the patriarchs and archbishops of all the Orthodox Churches to a meeting in Constantinople next March, to accelerate the preparation of the synod of all Orthodoxy set to take place in 2015. And in presenting this news, Nat da Polis, the reliable correspondent from Istanbul for the agency Asia News, has reported declarations by the metropolitan of Pergamon, Joannis Zizioulas - the most eminent living Orthodox theologian, a great admirer of Joseph Ratzinger and just as appreciated by him - according to which the risk of “self-marginalization” that is run by Orthodox Christianity today is linked to that “narcissist self-satisfaction that only leads to sterile confrontations," when what is needed instead is an ecumenical dialogue with the culture of the day, similar to the one carried out in the first centuries by the Fathers of the Church:

> Bartholomew convokes the Primates of the Orthodox Churches

The second and more direct reaction is an extensive and detailed reply to the document of the patriarch of Moscow on primacy in the universal Church, written by the metropolitan of Bursa and exarch of Bithynia, Elpidophoros Lambriniadis, reproduced in its entirety in its English version here:

> A Response to the Text on Primacy of the Moscow Patriarchate

The author of this reply is not only a worthy theologian himself, but he has a top-level role in the patriarchate of Constantinople, in the capacity of first secretary of Patriarch Bartholomew.

Metropolitan Elpidophoros has also acted as secretary of all the previous pan-Orthodox meetings held between 1998 and 2008 in preparation for the synod of all Orthodoxy. And his episcopal ordination in Istanbul in 2011 was attended by the second-in-command of the patriarchate of Moscow, Metropolitan Hilarion.

His reply to the document from Moscow therefore represents much more than a personal position. It can be attributed with confidence to the ecumenical patriarchate of Constantinople.



Patriarchate of Moscow, December 26, 2013

1. In the Holy Church of Christ, primacy belongs to her Head – our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man. […] Various forms of primacy in the Church in her historical journey in this world are secondary versus the eternal primacy of Christ. […]

2. In the life of the Church of Christ, which lives in this age, primacy, along with synodality, is one of the fundamental principles of her order. On various levels of church life, the historically established primacy has a different nature and different sources. These levels are: 1) the diocese or eparchy, 2) the autocephalous Local Church, and 3) Universal Church.

1) On the level of diocese, primacy belongs to the bishop. […] The source of the bishop’s primacy in his diocese is the apostolic succession handed down through episcopal consecration. […] In his church domain, the bishop has full power, sacramental, administrative and magisterial. […]

2) On the level of the autocephalous Local Church, primacy belongs to the bishop elected as Primate of the Local Church by a Council of her bishops. Accordingly, the source of primacy on the level of the autocephalous Church is the election of the pre-eminent bishop by a Council (or a Synod) that enjoys the fullness of ecclesiastical power. […]

The Primate of an autocephalous Local Church acts as chairman of her Council (or Synod). Thus, the Primate does not have one-man power in an autocephalous Local Church but governs her in council, that is, in cooperation with other bishops.

3) On the level of the Universal Church as a community of autocephalous Local Churches united in one family by a common confession of faith and living in sacramental communion with one another, primacy is determined in conformity with the tradition of sacred diptychs and represents primacy in honour.

This tradition can be traced back to the canons of Ecumenical Councils […] and has been reconfirmed throughout church history in the actions of Councils of individual Local Churches and in the practice of liturgical commemoration whereby the Primate of each Autocephalous Church mentions the names of those of other Local Churches in the order prescribed by the sacred diptychs.

The order in diptychs has been changing in history. In the first millennium of church history, the primacy of honour used to belong to the chair of Rome. After the Eucharistic community between Rome and Constantinople was broken in the mid-11th century, primacy in the Orthodox Church went to the next chair in the diptych order, namely, to that of Constantinople. Since that time up to the present, the primacy of honour in the Orthodox Church on the universal level has belonged to the Patriarch of Constantinople as the first among equal Primates of Local Orthodox Churches.

The canons on which the sacred diptychs are based do not vest the "primus" (such as the bishop of Rome used to be at the time of Ecumenical Councils) with any powers on the church-wide scale.

The ecclesiological distortions ascribing to the "primus" on the universal level the functions of governance inherent in primates on other levels of church order are named in the polemical literature of the second millennium as “papism”.

3. Due to the fact that the nature of primacy which exists at various levels of church order (diocesan, local and universal) varies, the functions of the "primus" on various levels are not identical and cannot be transferred from one level to another.

To transfer the functions of the ministry of primacy from the level of an eparchy to the universal level means to recognize a special form of ministry, notably, that of a "universal hierarch" possessing the magisterial and administrative power in the whole Universal Church. By eliminating the sacramental equality of bishops, such recognition leads to the emergence of a jurisdiction of a universal first hierarch never mentioned either in holy canons or patristic tradition and resulting in the derogation or even elimination of the autocephaly of Local Churches. […]

4. […] The bishops of Rome, who enjoy the primacy of honour in the Universal Church, from the point of view of Eastern Churches, have always been patriarchs of the West, that is, primates of the Western Local Church. However, already in the first millennium of church history, a doctrine on a special divinely-originated magisterial and administrative power of the bishop of Roman as extending to the whole Universal Church began to be formed in the West.

The Orthodox Church rejected the doctrine of the Roman Church on papal primacy and the divine origin of the power of the first bishop in the Universal Church. Orthodox theologians have always insisted that the Church of Rome is one of the autocephalous Local Churches with no right to extend her jurisdiction to the territory of other Local Churches. They also believed that primacy in honour accorded to the bishops of Rome is instituted not by God but men.

Throughout the second millennium up to today, the Orthodox Church has preserved the administrative structure characteristic of the Eastern Church of the first millennium. Within this structure, each autocephalous Local Church, being in dogmatic, canonical and Eucharistic unity with other Local Churches, is independent in governance. In the Orthodox Church, there was no and has never been a single administrative center on the universal level.

In the West, on the contrary, the development of a doctrine on the special power of the bishop of Rome, whereby the supreme power in the Universal Church belongs to the bishop of Rome as successor to St. Peter and vicar of Christ on the earth, has led to the formation of a completely different administrative model of church order with a single universal center in Rome. […]

5. […] The patriarchal chair of Constantinople enjoys the primacy of honour on the basis of the sacred diptychs recognized by all the Local Orthodox Churches. The content of this primacy is defined by a consensus of Local Orthodox Churches expressed in particular at pan-Orthodox conferences for preparation of a Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church. […]


The background of the dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox on the primacy of the pope:

> Papal Primacy. Russia Heads the Resistance Against Rome (6.10.2010)

> "The Pope Is the First Among the Patriarchs." Just How Remains to Be Seen (25.1.2010)

And the complete text of the working document produced in Crete in 2008:

> The Role of the Bishop of Rome in the Communion of the Church in the First Millennium


English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.

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