Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Inauguration: An Orthodox Reaction



I was busy being a priest this morning and didn't have a chance to see the inauguration Mass of Pope Francis. From what people say it seemed a very elegant Liturgy.
I was interested to see the Pope was joined in the Confessio of St Peter by Byzantine Rite Bishops, I presume as the Patriarch of Constantinople was not there, they were only those in Communion with Rome. It is a nice touch and reminder that the Pope is the head of the Church and not just the Latin or Roman Catholic Church.
I suppose it was this liturgical act that caused the Metropolitan Hillarion to warn against the Pope's support of Ukrainian Church. Argentina is one of its strongholds.
I thought this was a little sour:
“The union is the most painful topic in the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue, in relations between the Orthodox and the Catholics. If the pope will support the union, then, of course, it will bring no good,"
Metropolitan Hilarion noted that the Orthodox often had a suspicious attitude toward the Jesuits.
“It is believed that a Jesuit is someone who on the outside is one person, but inside someone else, says one thing, but means something else. This idea has been confirmed in real life by Jesuits and through our experience with such representatives,” said Metropolitan Hilarion.
He also said that the head of the Catholic Church must take care of the whole church and its relations with other churches, not protect the interests of a particular order or region.
“I hope that the positive momentum that we have had in our relations with the Roman Catholic Church under Pope Benedict XVI will continue under Pope Francis,” summed up the hierarch. 

17 comments:

Eugenio Pacelli said...

At Pope Benedict's inauguration only the patriarches of the sui iuris churches went with him to venerate the tomb of St. Peter - thereby indicating that they participate somehow in the Petrine ministry?
At the inauguration today all heads of those churches went with Pope Francis, also the Major archbishops, among them the Ukranian Sviatoslav, a personal friend of the Pope who once was the ordinary for the Ukranians in Argentina.
Also, this year the new cathedral of the greek catholics in Kiev is to be consecrated - by the Pope himself? Would that not present an opportunity to raise that church to the dignity of patriarchate? A dignity which, most certainly, the Ukrainiens deserve according to their history and to the norms of the CCEO.
The "fears" of bishop Hilarion of a Jesuit pope supporting his flock in eastern Europe inspite of orthodox threats seem not unfounded to me.

Mersey Mercy said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly. I think if the Holy Father, who seems rather too shy of using the term 'Pope', continues with his reticence for whatever reason (and I've heard a quite plausible one about improving ecumenical relations with the Orthodox), then the argument for more collegiality will only increase from all the usual culprits.

Since the abdication of our beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI it has been rather disheartening to see and hear all the toads come out of their respective smelly little holes! Mahony in particular, is a nasty little man, so full of anger, pride and hubris. There are others not quite in his league. One thing I was particularly angry about was the prominent presence of Godfreed Daneels in today's liturgy along with Mahony on the front row.

I did not watch the Mass today (save for 5 mins at the beginning whilst I was eating my cornflakes – I am on holiday this week). I felt that it would become an occasion of sin to me....a fact I am quite embarrassed to confess. However, I am glad that I didn't.

I am somewhat struggling to adapt to the current circumstances. In fact I find myself in the same place that I did pre Benedict XVI. I just couldn't connect with Pope JP II. Yes, he was a holy man. Yes, he was a charismatic leader, but for me there was simply no connection. He was simply the Pope!

However that changed in 2005 and I very quickly warmed to Benedict, knowing not much about him. He then soon became the Holy Father, MY Holy Father.

Who knows how things will work out? Well The Holy Trinity for One (or should that be Three?). So I’d better leave it in Their more than capable Hands. But I’m still struggling and no amount of cheerleading so far has persuaded me. I know I need to pray for HH Pope Francis but personally I (and I suspect some others) could do with some prayers too!!

Colonel Mustard said...

B16 seems to have been held in high regard amongst the Orthodox, which is something to be lauded, and we can hope and pray with bishop Hilarion that an ever closer bond of love and communion will develop amongst the churches.

It is wonderful that the bishop rightly acknowleges that the pope takes care of the whole church, so wonderfully expounded today and in other papal liturgies, with the perculiarly Vatican intermingling of rites that was always a part of the ancient Vatican liturgies.

It is a dear hope of mine that I might live to see some sort of reunion of the churches, and I pray for it every day. I might make it to 2054 if God wills it, but I hope the schism doesn't live to 1,000 years old!

Jeremiah Methuselah said...

“It is believed that a Jesuit is someone who on the outside is one person, but inside someone else, says one thing, but means something else. This idea has been confirmed in real life by Jesuits and through our experience with such representatives,” said Metropolitan Hilarion.

His Excellency (?) may well be right, but on the other hand, perhaps it’s a case of “I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realise that what you heard is not what I meant” (maybe it’s about time for a little gentle humour).

Dr. Adam DeVille said...

With all due respect to Met. Hilarion, who is a Western-educated theologian and author of numerous well received scholarly books, he pops up like clockwork every six months to denounce Ukr. Catholics in Ukraine and their supposed "expansionism," their supposed "attacks" on Orthodox, their supposed sheep- and property-stealing of Orthodox faithful, parishes, etc. These are lies. Let us call them for what they are. Lies. Every single responsible scholar who has looked at this charges for more than ten years now has found them utterly baseless and totally without any evidence.

But the Russians cannot surrender their dream of owning Ukraine again, and so they propagate this demonstrably false idea that Ukraine is somehow Russia's "canonical territory." It's not--never has been. The East-Slavs were Christianized through Kiev, which is the real mother-church. How can Moscow be its own mother?

Finally, someone needs to ask His Eminence: if Ukraine is Russian territory, whose territory is Italy or England? They've only ever belonged to the Western patriarchate--so why are you guys opening and maintaining Russian parishes in those places? Good for the goose/gander and all that.

Dr. Adam DeVille said...

With all due respect to Met. Hilarion, who is a Western-educated theologian and author of numerous well received scholarly books, he pops up like clockwork every six months to denounce Ukr. Catholics in Ukraine and their supposed "expansionism," their supposed "attacks" on Orthodox, their supposed sheep- and property-stealing of Orthodox faithful, parishes, etc. These are lies. Let us call them for what they are. Lies. Every single responsible scholar who has looked at this charges for more than ten years now has found them utterly baseless and totally without any evidence.

But the Russians cannot surrender their dream of owning Ukraine again, and so they propagate this demonstrably false idea that Ukraine is somehow Russia's "canonical territory." It's not--never has been. The East-Slavs were Christianized through Kiev, which is the real mother-church. How can Moscow be its own mother?

Finally, someone needs to ask His Eminence: if Ukraine is Russian territory, whose territory is Italy or England? They've only ever belonged to the Western patriarchate--so why are you guys opening and maintaining Russian parishes in those places? Good for the goose/gander and all that.

Pablo the Mexican said...

Gee.

No Dali LLama.

No Eucharistic Ministers/Lectors/Associate Pastors.

*

johnh said...

I hadn't noticed , until mentioned above , our Holy Father's reluctance to use the word Pope. I did however notice Law , Daneels and the everpresent Mahoney. I can't help thinking that perhaps the guy will pop up at the front row of every Papal function , if only to annoy me. I am also a little worried in Abp Peter Smith's call for colegiality for Bishop's conferences. The conference of E&W appears incapable of doing or saying anything effective - with perhaps three exceptions.

Jon said...

Not just "Pope," but "Supreme Pontiff" as well.

The Holy Father would do well to remember that the Sea of Galilee, where St. Peter first received his commission from Our Lord to "feed My sheep," is fifteen hundred miles from Rome.

First Supreme Pastor, then Bishop of Rome. The second is merely incidental to the first.

Pablo the Mexican said...

"...I was busy being a priest this morning..."

Atta boy, Padre.

Good on you.


*

Hughie said...

Jon States: "The second(Bishop of Rome) is merely incidental to the first (Supreme Pastor)."

I am afraid I can't buy this one. The Pope is first and foremost Bishop of Rome in succession to St Peter. It is his having been elected Bishop of Rome, hopefully as a result of the influence of the Grand Elector, that he is also Supreme Pontiff, which I presume is Pastor is used as a synonym.

Nicolas Bellord said...

I really appreciated the inaugural mass and thought his Holiness's homily excellent on the subject of St Joseph as custodian of the Holy Family, the Church and finally the whole world. A role model for every husband and an inspiration to take more care of one's family.

Are we really supposed to look around the congregation and see who is and who isn't there? Rather like the pharisee observing the chap at the back of the Church who would not even lift up his eyes to heaven?

By the way I understand watching the Mass yesterday and having communion and confession the next day one got a plenary indulgence - much needed in my case!

Jon said...

Hughie,

Correct to an extent. By virtue of his election as Bishop of Rome, the Pope becomes Supreme Pastor/Pontiff.

The reason why of course is that St. Peter, Vicar of Christ and Supreme Pastor, suffered martyrdom there. That event is the only thing separating the City of Rome from any other city. Peter's blood sealed the place of succession. Had Peter been crucified in Antioch, where would have been the Holy See? Remember, Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia.

In my view, while it's okay for the Pope, especially in an admirable effort to reconcile the Orthodox, may increase emphasis on his office as Bishop of Rome, that emphasis should never supersede or overshadow his office as Vicar of Christ on Earth, and Supreme Pastor of us all.

Robert said...

Keep in mind that Metropoliton Hilarion doesn't support the Kiev Patriarch in Ukraine as well. He believes that all of Ukraine should be under the Moscow Patriarch. But I do agree with his assessment of the Jesuits. Jurisdictional problems have always plagued the Orthodox churches. But unlike the Roman Catholic Church. Most Orthodox Christians never question doctrine or "traditions".

Archimandrite Gregory said...

I am to say the least a bit embarrassed by the comments of Hia Eminence. Knowing him to be a very cautious man who thinks before he says anything, I wonder if he isn't being quoted out of context, much like The Pope was at Regensberg?

lizard said...

Worse still, during the last centuries Eastern Churches have been under heavy influence from the state. Often, they represented an efficient instrument in the hands of the state (very frequently anti-christian state). The church used to live in this unnatural (for Catholics) submissive condition and even sanctified it in the form of a theory of “symphony” between the church and the state. There has been little resistance to state suppression from the church itself with drastic effects. Before the Russian Revolution, the Russian Church has for centuries been a kind of the governmental department and was governed by secular bureaucracy (Ober-procurator of the Saint Synod was a secular person accountable only to the Tsar). The effect of this was degradation and emasculation of Christianity (the spiritual devastation covered by ritualized orthodoxy made possible the Russian revolution of the 1917). Even in Russia during the communist rule, the Russian Church on the whole totally submitted to the atheist powers and was eager to cooperate with it. Most if not all hierarchs were agents of the secret security forces. There are reports that the secret services hired atheists komsomol members to the remaining monasteries to keep them under control. Many Russian martyrs were actually betrayed by the church powers.

Given the long history of (earthy) power seeking and submission to the state, the Russian Orthodox reaction is not surprising. There is another potential point of problem. The Russian Church (or its top layer) has been truly criticized for the love of wealth, luxury and money. There are numerous scandals exposing the Patriarch Kirill wearing watches for 30000 USD, owning a very expensive flat (is he a monk?) and ferociously litigating over a damage caused to the flat by a neighbor (also a priest), who should pay disproportionately huge compensation, Moscow monks owning luxury sport cars, killing people in road accidents while being drunken and still getting miraculously intact out of it (e.g. all road camera videos being lost as a consequence of a magical computer virus attack, or for other strange reasons). There is now a huge corruption and degradation in the Russian Church, at least in the upper echelon, which is interlinked with the corrupted state. All this corrodes the whole Church.

Here in Russia many local commentators pointed to a huge contrast between our Pope Emeritus (who did not cling to the power but was rather burdened by it), the new Pope (who is really humble, washed hands to poor AIDS sufferers, uses public transport etc.) and the current corrupt Orthodox higher hierarchy. This would cause discomfort and probably further hostility from the upper hierarchy. An additional point of “controversy” is that the new Pope is a Jesuit. In Russia, Jesuits have historically been accused of all kinds of conspiracy against the Russian people and the Russian Church). That the Pope have links with the Greek-Catholic “uniates” is another point which will be exploited, the uniates being even worse enemies of orthodoxy than Latins.

[of Father, I am sorry for the long comment]

lizard said...

[this should the first half of my commentary -sorry for its length]

This is actually expected in view of the historical hostility to the Universal Church from the separated Eastern Orthodox, especially the Moscow Patriarchate. The friendly moves by the current Ecumenical Patriarch and his predecessors are here in Russia accepted with great great suspicion. For example, Patriarch Bartholomew is accused of trying to get a kind of superiority in the Orthodox world and become an "Eastern Pope."

There seems to be a trend to overcome the historical Eastern dogmatic accusations of the Catholic Church (e.g. filioque, purgatorium, immaculate conception) by the Ecumenical Patriarch, as an antique relict of earthy politics. There is a tendency to discuss the true “historical” role and mission of the Bishop of Rome and the role of the Council (not just for the sake of an ecumenical discussion, but to get a true agreement; the role and the power of the Pope seems to be really the most difficult question). The joint theological commission has been working for decades, in the 60-90s there was a huge optimism, which resulted in the Balamand Agreement. The liturgical and other reforms of Second Vatican Council directly follow from the tendency to reconciliation with the Eastern Orthodox. For example, the liturgical changes (Novus Ordo) made the Roman Rite Mass much more similar to the Eastern Liturgy (among the most important changes, it also added the epiclesis, for the lack of which Catholics were accused as heretics for centuries).

However, the Moscow Church has been traditionally very cold in these reconciliation movements (except a very short period of Metropolitan Nikodim Rotov, under Khruschev). The official position of the Russian Church still repeats the ancient mythological allegations, many times rejected as false by the Orthodox themselves (e.g. at the Council of Florence), that Catholics believe in “double and separate procession” of the Holy Spirit, that Catholics teach that the Pope cannot sin (infallibility is translated as непогрешимость=”sinlessness” in Russian instead of a more precise безошибочность), that Catholic spirituality is based on delusion and is totally false, that it is untrue to use statues in churches, etc. etc. All this is weird and cannot be rationally explained in the era of total literacy, internet and free information exchange. The Balamand agreement was signed on the part of the Russian Church by a nobody known higumen Nestor but subsequently silently rejected by the hierarchy. In spite of what is said in the West, the Balamand agreement is abrogated in the Russian Church.

This can only be explained by two things (1) tendency to get the political power in this world (which is satanic in nature). And (2) a kind of an ecclesiological heresy of the Eastern Orthodox, placing heavy emphasis on the ordinary people (“церковный народ,” laity) as opposed to the universal teaching power of the Church. In some views, which are not rejected by the church and are actually widespread, the “laity on the whole” is the main keeper of the faith, spirituality and the doctrine. Historically this had serious precedents. For example, it was mostly laity and flocks of ignorant monks, who opposed the Florence Unia and finally forced (by numerous mutinies) the Church of Constantinople to reject the Unia with Rome in the XV century (parenthetically, similar flocks smashed churches with icons during the iconoclasts controversy in the East, and well before, during the Arian heresy).

This would put into question any agreements which may be achieved with any single Eastern Church (e.g. Constantinople) or even all or most Orthodox. Simply because they may be just easily abrogated if not “supported” by the people (the people can also easily change their mind, depending on the political moment). And the hierarchy seems to know this very well and is very unlikely to come to a clear and definitive agreement with the obvious effect that consultations are dragged out for years and ages.