Rorate Caeli

Russian Orthodox theologian weighs in on the liturgical reform after Vatican II

Divine Liturgy being offered by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow


Patriarchia.Ru, the official website of the Moscow Patriarchate (Russian Orthodox Church) has posted a very interesting interview with Archpriest Maksim Kozlov, a Russian Orthodox theologian and commentator on Catholic-Orthodox relations. The interview was posted on the said website last May 7, 2009.


Mr. Oleg-Michael Martynov of Una Voce Russia has kindly translated the article for Rorate Caeli.


According to Mr. Martynov, "Rt. Rev. Maksim Kozlov, born in 1963, ordained in 1992, is a popular preacher whose target audience are young educated people. A man of scholarship himself, he graduated Moscow State University with a degree in Latin and Greek, and has been teaching at the Moscow Ecclesiastical Academy since 1985. Among his subjects there have been Catholicism in the course of Western Confessions History and then Comparative Theology, two fields where he showed himself as a dedicated anti-Catholic but not a good expert in these areas, something quite fitting the needs of modern ROC education."


It should be noted that the interview also contains many factual errors, which will be noted in the comments box.
Nevertheless, Fr. Maksim's ideas on the liturgical and ecclesiastical reforms in Catholicism post-Vatican II, and his view of Marcel Lefebvre are of interest in that these have now been published on the official website of the Moscow Patriarchate. Hence this post.

Text of the interview in Russian is here

Translation of the interview, thanks to the generosity of Mr. Martynov, with portions pertaining to the liturgical reform of Vatican II highlighted by Rorate:


Protoiereus Maksim Kozlov. How is the Catholic Church’s reform experience useful for us


Patriarchia.ru publishes this interview of protoiereus (archpriest) Maksim Kozlov, professor at the Moscow Ecclesiastical Academy and rector of St. Tatiana Martyr church in the Moscow State University. It was first published by the Neskuchny Sad magazine, issue 5, 2009.

The Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church (1962-65) has caused the most radical reforms in her history. One of the main tasks was to bring in a ‘Church open to the world’ by ‘modern exposition of religious truths’. One of the results, reproaches cast upon the Church for becoming too modern and worldly. Protoiereus Maksim Kozlov believes the main mistake to be thinking that the society in general is willing to live in a Christian way.

What do you think was the reason behind Vatican II’s radicalism?
– We need to understand the situation of the Catholic Church by early 1960s, as well as the general situation in the world. It was the time when people both in Western Europe and, to a certain degree, in the Americas were abandoning regular participation in church life in mass. It was the era of the starting sexual revolution, of considerable parts of the society, especially the young, showing extreme sympathy towards radical left ideas, both pro-Soviet and Maoist. It was since then that Che Guevara started to be perceived as a kind of a self-sacrificing symbol, one perhaps even greater than that of Christianity. It was the time of a profound spiritual crisis, churches were deserted, and under these circumstances the Catholic Church had to react to the situation, try to find new possibilities of dialoguing with the society as it was then – perhaps, even at the price of errors. Vatican II became an attempt at the Church’s answer to the world’s secularism, like once upon a time the Catholics’ Trent answered to the Lutheran Reformation. This move itself, requiring courage and resolution, can definitely be praised.

Which of the reforms of Vatican II do you think to be positive?
– Among the most positive turnabouts I would number the understanding, in a new way declared and, to a considerable degree, experienced by the Catholic Church, of all-Christian unity in the face of danger, of which Alexander Solzhenitsyn was writing during the same period: there are considerable powers in the world that would like no Christians to exist at all. Facing the challenges of modern era, in spite of all our doctrinal differences and their indisputable importance, there is something that unites the Christians. This is a new approach to, let me utter some terrible words, the ecumenical problem, and it was expressed by the Catholic Church and should, of course, be welcomed: at Vatican II, the Catholic Church has renounced equating herself and the Universal Church. Before the Council, Catholics have been stating: Catholic Church is the Universal Church, and now the Catholic Church describes herself as a ‘part of the Universal Church’, recognizing also the way of Orthodox East. The Orthodox are no longer schismatics (heretics) for the Catholics. The direct consequence of this is that the Catholics now recognize the validity of Sacraments celebrated in the Eastern Churches (both Orthodox and Oriental), i. e., in the Churches that retain historical episcopate. An Eastern Church Christian can receive the Sacraments in the Catholic Church without first accepting her teaching as it has been before. Of course this does not mean that we should take a similar approach to recognizing all the sacraments of the Catholic Church. Orthodox theology goes not currently provide an unequivocal answer to the question of the existence of Eucharist in Christian Churches that retain historical episcopacy but are outside of Universal Orthodoxy, such as the Catholics and the Monophysites.

As far as the changes in Vatican’s internal ‘policies’ are concerned, here I would mention a move to overcome Rome’s centuries-old clericalism as a very important issue. I mean a very stern division of the Catholic Church into two unequal parts, the teaching Church, which is the clergy, and the taught Church, which is the laity, framed already in Trent. Vatican II has repeatedly emphasized the importance of lay people, who were now able to take a more active part in the Church. The status of lay organizations has been increased, the ecclesiastic communities were recognized as an important component of the Church. This penetrates the life of Catholic Church considerably. For example, in the town of Rimini, Italy, there are annual conventions of Christians with about a million participating every year. These includes exhibitions and lectures on the Bible, there was, by the way, a large section dedicated to Solzhenitsyn this year. These conventions are initiated and conducted by lay volunteers only, the priests are not an organizing force there. Priests can be invited, take part, etc., but the lay people are the main organizers and inspirers.

As something positive, I would also mention Vatican II’s new approach to liturgical worship. Before the Council, Catholic mass was celebrated in Latin, which even among the Europeans few could understand by the middle of 20th century. And after the Catholic Church’s mission to Latin America, Africa, Asia – countries with obviously connection to Romance culture – it became clear that Latin liturgy has come into obvious conflict with the pious needs of many millions of Catholics. This [caused] switching into national languages, which, by the way, was carried out in the spirit of Eastern Christian tradition, that supposes liturgy to be celebrated in the national language of the faithful.

But the methods by which these, reforms, per se right, were carried out, were of diverse value, and the implementation of the reforms itself can not be numbered among the Council’s positive results.

When reforms are declared, there often appears a certain managerial ardor, and at times it’s not the most wise people who find themselves in the lead of the process. In practice, alas, it was not simply permitted to celebrate in national languages, but pre-reform Latin mass virtually prohibited, for it was required to get very many permissions virtually from Vatican itself in order to celebrate it. People who wanted to pray in the old way, especially the clergy, appeared so disloyal and suspicious in the eyes of the predominating trend that Latin worship has virtually ceased to exist.

From the very beginning already, the Council’s reforms have invoked criticism from two directions. The ‘left’ majority were unhappy with lack of radicalism. People who lived in the Western secular society with its priority of human rights as a humanist secular value, and still identifying themselves as Catholics, wondered why has not the Council permitted female priests, abolished celibacy, granted even more rights (like those enjoyed by the priests) to the laity, or allowed divorce and abortions.

The ‘right’ criticism is connected with the name of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (1905-1991). He and his followers criticized Vatican II in a number of aspects: for its excessive ecumenism, for the liturgical reforms that have, in their view, caused the loss of sacral language of worship as well as the secularization of liturgical awareness. Indeed, the secularized understanding of liturgy was one of the reforms’ negative consequences. This manifested in excessive emphasis on the ‘horizontal’ component, i. e. the fellowship of the faithful, to the prejudice of ‘vertical component’, which is the congregation’s aspiration for Heaven. The altars were taken out of the sanctuary into the middle of the churches, the priests were now celebrating facing the people and not what we would call the synthronon, as it was before, there were unrestrained and numerous variants of translations and ordos for celebrating mass. There was a rupture, loss of the liturgy’s identity and sameness. Before, for example, a Catholic could everywhere, from Africa to Polynesia, come to a service and realize that he was attending a mass, but this is not so now.
Lefebvre is absolutely correct in his criticism of the progress ideology, adopted by the Catholic Church, where ‘progress’ as progressive motion of the society is considered as a religious value regardless of this society’s religious status. This means that growth of material benefits, gentler morals, tolerance towards different value systems, human rights – regardless of their connection with Christianity are taken as a positive value. The society is estimated more by the presence or growth of these categories of progress than by the grade and quality of its piety. This is something which the Orthodox Church, of course, can not agree with.

The idea of progress is associated with the notion of ‘anonymous Christianity’, developed at Vatican II. It means that not only people who visibly belong to the Church, but also those who do not openly run counter to her, to her spirit, are recognized as those not alien to her. This can perhaps be true for non-Christian countries, for communities that have not encountered the Gospel. But this is absolutely inapplicable to European and American society that is, step by step, turning away from Christianity. This is not anonymous Christianity but rather apostasy from God and the Church.

The Catholic Church’s experience after the reforms shows: in spite of the Church’s coming to meet the society trying to become more modern, intelligible, and close to this society, the society did not come to meet the Church. This is to be realized and admitted, practically, historiosophically, and eschatologically: to expect that the society in its majority will be willing to reaccept Christian values not as declarations but as norms implemented in real life means to live in an illusion.

Another important lesson that we can learn from the experience of Vatican II is how cautiously should we approach the centuries-old Church Tradition, first of all in the field of liturgy. It is important to recognize that we are on the same side with the Catholics, also suffering from certain impenitence among a considerable part of churchgoing folk, a view that service is something not to be understood but rather to incite a kind of pious mood. On the other hand, it is important to realize that the way to modifying the liturgy should not be through its adaptation to the society’s simplistic conceptions formed by the mass media and simply by the very low level of education in the humanities. Christianity as such is something complicated. But understanding Church Slavonic it is not the most complicated thing in Christianity. Rather we should put the question, and look for the answer, on how to bring the beauty and significance of this liturgy to the people.
(Note: The final paragraph refers to the current debates in the Russian Orthodox Church on whether to allow the celebration of the liturgy (within Russia) in modern Russian instead of only in Church Slavonic. Patriarch Kirill and Archbishop Hilarion have both indicated that they are against the use of modern Russian in the liturgy. CAP)
H/t to my friend J. Felix Valenzuela for first tipping me to the existence of this article.

32 comments:

Filip Baker said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Meg said...

The only real error I can find is in his framing of the origins of the crisis precipitated by Vatican II. He notes that "We need to understand the situation of the Catholic Church by early 1960s, as well as the general situation in the world. It was the time when people both in Western Europe and, to a certain degree, in the Americas were abandoning regular participation in church life in mass. It was the era of the starting sexual revolution, of considerable parts of the society, especially the young, showing extreme sympathy towards radical left ideas, both pro-Soviet and Maoist. It was since then that Che Guevara started to be perceived as a kind of a self-sacrificing symbol, one perhaps even greater than that of Christianity. It was the time of a profound spiritual crisis, churches were deserted, and under these circumstances the Catholic Church had to react to the situation, try to find new possibilities of dialoguing with the society as it was then – perhaps, even at the price of errors."

I was well into my teens during this time, and this was not true of the Church in the US. People had been well "indoctrinated" with the idea that if you didn't attend Mass on Sundays, you would go to hell. Churches were full, and in my own home parish -- admittedly, in one of the boroughs of New York City -- Masses were held hourly from 6:00 am to 12:00 noon. Beginning by 8:00 am, every Mass was full, and the later Masses had standing room only.

The conditions that Father Kozlov notes came about *because* of Vatican II. They were not the *cause* of Vatican II. It's possible that the conditions he described were already going on in Europe, but having lived in Germany between 1969 and 1972, I do know that people's lack of participation there was caused by WWII -- people simply lost faith in God altogether (no notion that their own actions were responsible for the terrible suffering they endured!!) -- and was not limited to Catholicism.

But the leftward tilt of the RCC was definitely the *result* of Vatican II, and not the cause.

Dimitri said...

The "light of the east" shines a great deal of truth on the West in these remarks. Notice that this light does not glare or blind -- but is just enough to lift some of the darkness of modernity and the folks and Christian folks wounded in this tragedy.

Luiz said...

"Before the Council, Catholic mass was celebrated in Latin, which even among the Europeans few could understand by the middle of 20th century."

That is not what the Holy Catholic Church has taught us until the reforms. It was a lack of spiritual life and cathequesis. It was the consequence of modernism, naturalism and many other "isms" what has caused the crisis.

Dan Hunter said...

Meg,

I did not live through the Second Vatican Council, having been born in 1966, but I tend to agree with everything that you say simply because my parents, grandparents and many older friends have made extremely similar observations to the ones you made.

And there is great rational sense in them.

"As the Church goes, so goes the World."

j g rathkaj said...

"Before the Council, Catholic mass was celebrated in Latin, which even among the Europeans few could understand by the middle of 20th century."
---------
1.This a rather futile remark in this interesting interview. It would be folly to think that the virtue of the divine cult is depending on the understanding of the congregation. As far as I can see this fallacy is often the logical consequence of such harum-scarum words.
2.the Russian Church herself uses old church slavonic which is just as little understandable for the common russian.

Peter said...

1. Russian church uses "church Slavic", NOT "old church Slavic". It is an already modernised version of the OCS language, dropping some phonemes and incorporating many words not present in the original language, but still it is not the vernacular language.

2. Have no illusions - Russian society in it's mass is virtually atheist. Number of baptised people is very low, promiscuity among young people is enormous, so HIV and AIDS are widespread and still more babies are being killed by abortions than born.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting how an outsider can see that to which so many Catholics are blind, i.e. that the Council is not the problem at all but an attempt - which has produced mixed results - to address the problem.

Mons. Bugnini himself commenting on the 1956 changes shortening the rites remarks that with the falling number of priests clergy will have less time for the Office.

Dan Hunter said...

"Mons. Bugnini himself commenting on the 1956 changes shortening the rites remarks that with the falling number of priests clergy will have less time for the Office."

Which comment His Excellency was dead wrong on.

Almost every priest that I know prays at least seven hours of the Divine Office, daily.
And that is besides their daily duty of offering Holy Mass and dispensing the Sacraments and giving instruction and making sick calls...all in this day and age of "falling number of priests".

Anonymous said...

Meg: Your last comment is not correct. Read Monsignor Florence D. Cohalan's "A Popular History of the Archdiocese of New York." Fr. Rutler may have copies left. Also, read Mr. Lawler's excellent book "The Faithful Departed."

I am from the Archdiocese of Newark and vouch for your second paragraph. It was the same there. Crowded churches, crowded schools, many vocations etc, and then it all collapsed.

Delphina

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Generally this is not a bad article though there are a few points on which I could quibble. At one point he observes that "Eastern Christian" may now receive the sacraments in a Catholic Church w/o first accepting all of her teachings. I think that Rome allows this only under exceptional circumstances (such as a life threatening emergency). And though I do not believe he intended to imply it is permissible from an Orthodox standpoint; I think he should have noted that the Orthodox Church absolutely forbids inter-communion with the heterodox. There are no exceptions.

On the subject of the use of Slavonic, I think that's a debate that is overdue in the Russian Church. Even among it's supporters there is a recognition that if it is to be retained the people need to be reeducated so that they have at least a general grasp of it. Before the Revolution most Russians were taught enough in the church schools to suffice. Today very few Russians know any at all. And while there have been notable exceptions (Greece comes to mind) the historic tradition of the Orthodox Church is to offer the Holy Mysteries in the language of the people.

I have always felt that while Latin for many historic and cultural reasons should be retained on some level in the Western Church, that this cult like insistence by some on only Latin is unhealthy. The great problem in my mind was not the move to a greater use of vernacular, But rather the radical invention of what is effectively a new (and wholly inferior) rite of mass in 1969.

To me the oft forgotten 1965 missal (excepting its turning of the altars) was a sensible move in the right direction. I think a good compromise would be the restoration of the older liturgy with a general permission for the use of the vernacular in the earlier parts and Latin retained for the canon or at least those parts surrounding the consecration.

Finally I need to note that Peter errs in part of his criticism of Russia. It is true that Russia suffers from many of the social ills he mentioned. But these are not exactly some strange invention of the late twentieth century. They have always been around in all societies from the dawn of history.

And when he says that Russia is virtually atheistic, that is simply not true. The number of baptized in Russia is one of the largest per capita of any country in Europe. Regular church attendance is still far too low. But Russia is emerging from a long period of severe religious persecution. It is still in the early stages of being re-evangelized. And the progress has been nothing short of breath taking. The number of churches re-opening or being built from scratch is astonishing. Monasteries are flourishing and enjoying a revival that is without precedence in modern history.

Is there much work to be done? Of course. But I can assure you Russia is more distantly removed from atheism today than probably any other country in Europe with the possible exception of Poland.

Christ is risen!
John

Nicola said...

Meg,

I too was in my teens in the 1950's and you are correct.

I noticed that the Russian Orthodox theologian was born in 1963, that may account for his accepting the "left'" version of why the Council was called.

Carlos Antonio Palad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carlos Antonio Palad said...

I'd like to thank my good friend J. Felix Valenzuela for being the first to tell me about this article. He sent me the Russian link and a Babelfish translation, and once I realized its value, I asked Mr. Martynov for a more formal translation.

Anonymous said...

John favours the changes of 1965. Why favour the dropping of Psalm 42 at the beginning of Mass and the Last Gospel at its end? Why favour the shortening of the Communion formula to 'The Body of Christ'? Bad ideas.

But he focues on a limited use of the vernacular. I must say that I don't agree. The vernacular leads by degrees to junk liturgy. First you get the noble liturgical English with the respect pronouns, Thee and Thou (which are *not* affective but let's not go there). Fine: Confraternity edition. Then our Lady gets insulted when she becomes a 'you'. In comes formal but non-liturical English. Then follows pop-culture English. After this comes politically-correct gender-neutral stream-of-consciousness Feminazi English. In the end, you get the Blue Jeans Bible for the lections and hey, man, Jesus becomes a Jesus freak with a headband. Love is God, man.

Is this a slippery slope fallacy? Not at all. On the last day of this month, in my country, the Dominion of Canada, in comes the penultimate stage in this process. The Canadian bishops are imposing gender-neutral Feminazi English. While the Pope moves in one direction and corrects the asinine mistranslations of the 1970s, the Canadian bishops are moving in the opposite direction, at the same time! Two steps forward, one step back. Before long, God Himself will be god itself. That's why we don't abandon Latin. They can't change a dead language, and they can't touch the liturgical English in our old Missals, now availabe in e-books and beyond the bastards' reach.

P.K.T.P.

P.S. The e-book is also a lovely way in the future simply to ignore the Good Friday change: Download the earlier version and simply read that while the priest intones whatever.

Peter said...

@John (Ad Orientem):
Of course the plagues that haunt Russian youth today are an outcome of 80 years of obligatory atheisation.

It is true, that many Russians while behaving in godless way, have a strong sentiment towards the Orthodox Church, but it's more a question of national identity, than a religious issue. I would call it Russian national messianism, which originated when Russia happened to be the largest Orthodox country after the fall of Constantinople (Moscow - the Third Rome, etc.)

It is true that there were plenty of beautiful churches built (and rebuilt) in Russia in the recent 20 years, but it all has been done with state funds. Number of believers would be too small to fund it. Religion is being perceived by the Russian government as an important factor of Russian national identity. Orthodoxy is a state church, with all of its disadvantages, like servile attitude towards the government.

It is true that Russia is officially more religious than secular Europe (maybe except for Poland, where still more than 90% of the population is Catholic), but it does not mean that Russia's condition is good, nor even not-so-bad. It just means that Europe is in the state of clinical death.

What I want to say is that Russia is not in any kind a Christian country that we all are longing for. There's no "lux" coming from Russia. It is a devastated country with state church (like, for example, lutheran Sweden). The difference is in the government's attitude towards the state church. Russian government finds it important, the Swedish - obsolete relic of the past.

I do take part in the SSPX Rosary Crusade for the consecration of Russia, and I encourage you all who want to see Russia religious and converted to do so.

lizard said...

John (Ad Orientem),

As a Russian I must say that modern Russia is indeed virtually atheistic. The number of abortions (both absolute and relative) is higher than anywhere in the world, including the secularist UK. The number of divorces is among the highest. Most Russians agree that they are "orthodox," BUT most of these "orthodox" do not even believe in God. The number of baptised children does not reflect faith, it is a kind of a vogue and typically a magical or nationalistic-patriotic ritual. There is typically no consideration or preparation for this sacrament in most churches. A stranger may come to a church and hola, he or the child is baptised (there is usually a specific price list too). The Rissian church itself, in spite of fascinating revival is in a state of very serious crisis. Religious education and catechisation in Russia is almost absent, it is uncomparable to even the insipid one in the UK. All kinds of magical thinking and superstition flourishing. A significant portion of the Russian church is characterised superstition, magism, reactionism (in the worst sense of this word), nationalism and worst conspiracy theories. I assure you, unfortunately, that Russia is much more atheistic than any secularist country in Europe.

Gideon Ertner said...

This man has some very important observations, but he has some nerve to glory in the (erroneous) prospect that the Catholic Church has 'acknowledged the way of the Orthodox', while the Orthodox are still unwilling to even recognize the validity of our Sacraments.

(and he is also mistaken in stating that the Church didn't regard Orthodox Sacraments as valid before VII)

As for the role of Latin in the liturgy, Church Latin was never the vernacular of Rome anyway. So we might as well put that discussion to rest.

Athelstane said...

"I was well into my teens during this time, and this was not true of the Church in the US."

Not in the U.S., perhaps, but the warning signs were there in Europe. And it was European experience, not American, that drove the calling of the Council, and most of its discussions.

Of course, the merely troubling trends before the Council became utterly catastrophic afterwards. Would they have done so without the Council? All I can say is that it's hard to think you could do worse than what we have experienced over the last four decades.

Corleonis said...

Meg & Others, I lived that generation and it is true that in the US Catholic churches there was a sizable attendance etc. You are quite correct about the US. However, the US is not the world and Europeans were deserting the Church in droves. In Latin America there was not a lot of young people involved and even less men (of any age). The reasons to call the Council were complex and naturally, the liberal sector was allowed to insert its ambiguity in the words of the Council, setting the stage for the debacle that followed. Add to that the general turmoil, a tired Paul VI who was contending with the titanic forces at play and the indifference of so many... The Lord was not kidding when He said: "The powers of the Heavens shall be shaken..." We should all prayerfully reflect on what has happened since the end of WWII. It would be a stroke of the Divine Genius to use the spiritual treasures of the Eastern Churches to revive the faith worldwide. Our Lady of Fatima appearing at the time of the Russian Revolution to announce "the century of Her Immaculate Heart"... is quite an inkling that something big is going on here... God Bless You All

Anonymous said...

"at Vatican II, the Catholic Church has renounced equating herself and the Universal Church. Before the Council, Catholics have been stating: Catholic Church is the Universal Church, and now the Catholic Church describes herself as a ‘part of the Universal Church'"

False. The Catholic Church IS the Universal Church, the Church of Christ. It's true that the Catholic Church does not solely consist of the Latin Rite, but also includes the various Eastern Rite Churches. However, the Orthodox are in no way a 'part' of the Universal Church. They are schismatics. Schismatics are not part of the Catholic Church.

Arguably, they are even heretics in some respects (e.g.: denial of Vatican I's declaration on Papal Infallibility).

It seems the the Rt. Rev. Kozlov misinterprets the "subsists in" clause in Vatican II. This does not mean the Catholic Church is simply 'part of' the Universal Church. It means the Catholic Church and the Universal Church imply the same reality, i.e.: the Catholic Church IS the Universal Church. The word "subsist" is another way of affirming this identification between the two. It also simply points out that elements, or certain characteristics of the Catholic Church, can be found 'outside' the Catholic Church. Namely, the Orthodox for instance do possess a lot of true doctrine. They have the valid orders, dispense valid sacraments etc etc. However, be all the similarities as they may, the Orthodox are not 'part of' the Catholic Church, even though they share certain characteristics of the Catholic Church.

Carlos Antonio Palad said...

"It seems the the Rt. Rev. Kozlov misinterprets the "subsists in" clause in Vatican II."

Given that Fr. Kozlov misinterpretation of "subsistit in" is exactly the same misinterpretation of it that has become normative in a lot of seminaries and universities, it isn't particularly surprising.

Carlos Antonio Palad said...

"This man has some very important observations, but he has some nerve to glory in the (erroneous) prospect that the Catholic Church has 'acknowledged the way of the Orthodox', while the Orthodox are still unwilling to even recognize the validity of our Sacraments."

He's a conservative Orthodox priest, what do you expect?

Ogard said...

“Orthodox are still unwilling to even recognize the validity of our Sacraments.”

Let’s not caricature the Orthodox position, because the Vatican II approach to the tragedy of division is different. It is essential for a dialogue that the parties involved learn from one another their respective doctrines so that, at least, we put a stop on false accusations.

It is not the matter of the Orthodox “unwillingness” to recognize our Sacraments. What is at stake here is the very nature of the Church. They believe, as we do, that the Church itself is a basic, universal sacrament of salvation, and, of course, that church is the Orthodox Church. Sacraments are essentially, intrinsically, linked to the Church, a sort of tentacles – to use my own analogy - by which the Church reaches out to man, incorporates him into herself in various ways, and thus offering salvation to those who receive them with right disposition.

The sacraments do not and cannot exist outside the Church. In Orthodox theology there is no distinction between validity and legality. This position goes back to the time of St. Augustine and St. Cyprian, when St. Augustine argued that the heretics should not be rebaptized if they return to the Church, while St. Cyprian argued that they should, and both were – saints.

So, it is no more “unwillingness” than it is our “unwillingness” to give up the doctrine of Primacy. Both are basic matters of ecclesiology, which have to be studied in depth to see whether reconciliation is possible, but a dialogue cannot even start, if the two parties misconceive their respective positions and “disagree” on the basis of such misconceptions.

Oleg-Michael Martynov said...

> the Russian Church herself uses
> old church slavonic which is
> just as little understandable
> for the common russian.

I am a Latin Catholic with no special training in Byzantine matters, but I do understand well over 80% of any average Church Slavonic text either from my native knowledge of Russian or from generic linguistic skills. Well, maybe an average babushka (old lady) in a parish understands less than I do. Still, it's much more than an English or Russian speaker without training understands of Latin. (I have been studying Latin for years, attend Latin Mass, occasionally say Latin vespers... and still find it much easier to read Church Slavonic than Latin).

antonio said...

From:www.interfax-religion.com
29 December 2008, 15:03
Metropolitan Kirill opposes church reforms
Moscow, December 29, Interfax - There will be no reforms in the Russian Orthodox Church when a new Patriarch takes office, Patriarchal Locum Tenens Metropolitan Kirill told the media in Moscow on Monday.

"I strongly oppose any church reforms. Besides, I do not think that any of the 145 archbishops that may be nominated for Patriarch have reform aspirations," he said.

Russia has twice learned "the necessity of careful attitude to traditions, especially church traditions," the Metropolitan said.

"The first lesson we learned was the church split by Old Believers. Our second lesson was the notorious innovations of the 1920s. Both processes caused agitation and divided people but neither of them reached the goals set by the reformers," he told.

"Church reforms cannot attain their goals unless these goals are rooted in people's life," Metropolitan Kirill remarked.

"Our Church is strong with its ability to preserve the belief and the flawless moral paradigm and to pass them over from one generation to another," the Metropolitan said.

"The Church is conservative by nature, as it maintains the apostolic belief," he added.

"If we want to pass the belief from one generation to another for centuries, the belief must be intact. Any reform damaging the belief, traditions and values is called heresy," he said.

Meanwhile, secular reforms that undermine traditions of "theological and moral values" are dangerous for the country, Metropolitan Kirill said.

"Life has shown that Russia accepts ideas that do not break its backbone. People rejected everything suggested in the 1990s as kind of an intellectual project," he said.
Print this page
Home

Anonymous said...

The responses to this article have been quite interesting. I was a Roman Catholic during Vatican II. I remember the changes in the Mass and the fast rules, etc.

I have mixed feelings about some of the changes and I have major personal problems with others. For example, I am not against the use of the vernacular for any service, but to force it upon the people is wrong in my mind. I serve mainly in English, but I can serve somewhat in Church Slavonic and to a lesser degree in Greek. What language I use depends on the congregation.

It seems to me that the Catholic Church still has holy days of obligation, a concept which is foreign to the Orthodox Church. For us there is only one Liturgy on Sunday and holy days because more than one divides the community. Out of economia, some parishes do have two Liturgies, usually one in English and one in the "traditional" language of the community.

Because there is only one Liturgy on any day, we cannot say that if you do not attend it is a mortal sin. First of all, we do not have the concept of mortal sin. Secondly, we understand that some people have to work on these days. I don't know about you, but I do what the police officers to be working on Sunday mornings. I do want the Fire Department to be on duty on Sunday mornings and I want the hospital staff at work then.

I regret that the Catholic Church no longer requires Fridays to be meatless and that she has dropped the fasting during Lent. The problem for me is what when there is a Catholic-Orthodox gathering for whatever reason, most Catholics do not take into consideration the fact that these days are fast days or days of abstinence for the Orthodox. I had stopped attending a series of meetings because they were held on Fridays and the Catholics almost always brought meat. The temptation was too much for me. When I tried to bring the problem to the attention of those in charge, I was told "Eat what is put in front of you," thus showing a complete lack of understanding of the issues.

In the East we still do not eat meat on most Fridays because every Friday is a little Good Friday because every Sunday is a little Easter Sunday. The issue is not and never has been that of mortal sin. It is just what we do.

In my mind the real issue is ignorance. A man in my former parish once asked me, "St. John Chrysostom, is he the author of the fourth Gospel?" At least he had the humility to ask and I highly respect him for that.

I also see a certain amount of ignorance in the Roman Catholic Church. When I tell some people that I'm Russian Orthodox, they ask if I am Jewish or they would ask if I am atheist. Once they know that I'm a Christian, Catholics often ask if we have Sacraments. One woman called me Father and confessed to her sister that she did so. Her sister had to explain to her that my orders are recognized by the Catholic Church and that we have valid Sacraments.

Another thing that the good bishop mentioned is the fact that now there are so many different canons in the Catholic Mass. Over the weekend I gave a talk on the Ancient Church in Detroit and one thing that I pointed out was that an Orthodox Christian can go anywhere in the world and the services would be almost exactly the same. I was the second deacon at the Divine Liturgy. Before the service the first deacon and I spent less than two minutes going over who will do what and during the service if he was not up to doing something, he just nodded to me and I did it.

I also like the idea that the Catholic Church recognizes the Orthodox Church. We never rejected the teachings of the Universal Church. We always had Sacraments and a valid priesthood. Now we need for both sides to approach the issues with love and humility.

These are my own views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Orthodox Church and any entity of the Orthodox Church.

Fr. Deacon Michael

Meg said...

Delphina: I'm assuming that you were not familiar with Francis Cardinal Spellman, who condemned the Catholic Worker movement, begun by Dorothy Day, as a "Communist front." These days, there's a movement to canonize Dorothy Day. Then there was the designation of May 1 as a Feast of St. Joseph -- we were told, "to counteract the Marxist holiday." So the move leftward was *definitely* post-Vatican-II.

John (ad Orientem): When my mother died, my (Orthodox) priest attended the funeral. Later, the (Catholic) priest asked if that had been my priest in the congregation, and on being told it was, he said, "You should have let me know -- he could have concelebrated with me." That priest knew that I had become Orthodox. The problem with Slavonic is not the language -- on learning Russian, I was struck by how many words are identitical between Slavonic and modern Russian -- but the grammar, which is Greek. *That's* what confuses modern Russians.

As for Russia still being atheistic -- I have an American friend who teaches English in Moscow. She tells me that 3-4 churches are being built *per week* to accommodate all the people who want to attend church. She also lives across the street from a monastery, and every evening, when people get off the tram on their way home from work, there are always people who bow to the monastery and make the sign of the Cross. Just 'cause they may not be in church on Sunday, doesn't mean they don't attend one of the three daily services that are offered in so many of the parishes in Moscow.

Lastly, in terms of the Orthodox as "schismatics": When I realized that there had been *five* ancient Patriarchates, and that of the five, three were still in communion with one another (Constantinople, Antioch, and Jerusalem), and that only Rome and Alexandria were not in communion with either each other or any of the other three -- well, that spoke to me. I thank God and His Mother every day for leading me to Orthodoxy.

Jordanes said...

When I realized that there had been *five* ancient Patriarchates, and that of the five, three were still in communion with one another (Constantinople, Antioch, and Jerusalem), and that only Rome and Alexandria were not in communion with either each other or any of the other three -- well, that spoke to me. I thank God and His Mother every day for leading me to Orthodoxy. *** The five ancient Patriarchates are not a necessary article of the Church’s constitution established by Christ, but developed later and for their authority were dependent upon the recognition or assent of the Bishop of Rome. Of those five Sees, there is only one with which a Christian is obligated for the sake of his salvation to be in communion, and that is the See of Sts. Peter and Paul in Rome. There are still Catholic patriarchs of Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria who are in communion with Rome. It is just that the Eastern Orthodox rival patriarchs who have not yet returned to communion with the Catholic Church. Hopefully they will someday soon. I will pray for your return to Catholic orthodoxy.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Ogard,
Thanks for your comment. You are entirely correct. The priest’s position on Catholic sacraments is pretty much that of the Orthodox Church. Just as Roman Catholics hold that their church is The Church so we Orthodox hold the same view of ours.

The major difference here is in attitudes towards the possibility of true mysteries or sacraments existing outside the Church. At one time East and West were of one mind on this subject. However, Blessed Augustine opinions on grace paved the way in the West for a dualistic understanding of the nature of the Church and by implication the possibility of true sacraments outside of her canonical boundaries. These opinions have always been treated with great suspicion or simply dismissed as heresy in Orthodoxy.

Because the Orthodox Church is The Church whole and undivided (no two lungs), it stands to reason that the Roman Church is not. This necessarily casts doubt on the grace of her sacraments.

That said The Church has always understood that there are degrees of error. And all but the most virulently anti-Catholic acknowledge that alone among the western Christian sects Rome has strong historic and apostolic ties to The Church. Her careful preservation of the external forms Apostolic Succession do count.

Many Orthodox (myself among them) believe that Rome's errors are not of a nature that they would constitute an absolute impediment to sacramental grace. They note that in the early Church the OEcumenical Councils permitted the reception of some (though not all) heretics without re-baptizing them. This is reflected by the fact that most Orthodox jurisdictions today receive Roman Catholic converts by economy, which is to say by Chrismation and Holy Confession without baptizing them. Likewise once Chrismated into the Church most Orthodox jurisdictions simply vest Roman clergy instead of ordaining them. Rome's preservation of the forms of Apostolic Succession with a more or less Orthodox understanding of the sacraments make it possible to do this.

St. John of San Francisco (my patron) once observed that the Roman Catholic Church was like a magnificent and beautiful old house with all of its electrical wiring intact. It just needs to be reconnected to the main power station.

Thus the priest’s remarks were not intended as triumphalism. Rather they simply are reflection of the ancient teaching that there are no mysteries outside the Church.

Christ is risen!
John

dcs said...

When I realized that there had been *five* ancient Patriarchates, and that of the five, three were still in communion with one another (Constantinople, Antioch, and Jerusalem), and that only Rome and Alexandria were not in communion with either each other or any of the other three -- well, that spoke to me. I thank God and His Mother every day for leading me to Orthodoxy.Actually there are *three* ancient patriarchates, those of Antioch, Rome, and Alexandria. The first two were founded by St. Peter and the last by his disciple St. Mark. Constantinople didn't even have a metropolitan, let alone a Patriarch, before Constantine moved his seat there - it was a suffragan of Heraclea.

New Catholic said...

OK: enough Orthodox propaganda here.