Pope Francis and the Orthodox: We are going to Be a Christian Family

This interview with the Metropolitan Tarasios Primate of the Greek Orthodox of South America. The interview sheds light on Pope Francis, as well as the gracious personality of the Primate himself.

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  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Hallelujah on the coming together with the Orthodox. Unlike the split with most Protestants, there are very few theological differences between Roman Catholics and Orthodox, and in my opinion none that are really huge. We really should be one body, and I pray that it may be so.

  • http://evaulian-thebestoftheworst.blogspot.com/ Eva Ulian

    Like Pope Francis said to his Orthodox counterpart, “I am the successor of Peter and you are the successor of Andrew…” And that is the reason that has kept the two faiths apart for more than a thousand years??? How proud men must be! says I.

  • Garth

    Am I missing something? What interview with Metropolitan Tarasios?

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Garth, thank you for pointing this out! I’m not sure what happened. This beautiful interview was here yesterday. I know, because I checked it. I guess I must have done something stupid later in the day. :-) I’ve corrected it now.

      Again, thank you!

  • james

    beautiful and wise words spoken by a holy and wise leader.

  • FW Ken

    From the Orthodox point of view, the theological issues are not small. Nor should Catholics dismiss them. The filioque is a good example. To Catholics, it is a hedge against Arianism. To Orthodox, it’s a Trinitarian heresy AND an example of Roman arrogance. We can’t even agree on the problem.
    But there is a greater problem, and that is the papal claims. Communion with the Orthodox will entail renouncing Vatican I, and finding some way to say that infallibility is not really a dogma solemnly defined by an Ecumenical Council.

    http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles6/HopkoPope.php

    The Orthodox also object to our western notions of original sin, and regard the west’s theological development of the last 1000 years as suspect, if not heterodox. The bottom line is that we will come into Communion with the Orthodox when the Catholic Church becomes Orthodox. Certainly the Eastern Christians who wanted Communion with Peter have already gained it through the Eastern Catholic Churches.

    So what can we do? Embrace one another as separated brethren, cooperate in social areas, and generally respect one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. More than that, I suspect is unlikely in our lifetimes.

    • http://fpb.livejournal.com/ Fabio P.Barbieri

      I suspect that if Catholics knew more of Orthodox beliefs and practices they would not be so confident either. CS Lewis pointed out the strangeness of speaking of “uncreated energies” other than God, especially if you mean that they are God after all. And many Orthodox practice the scandal of re-baptism for converts, which means that they don’t believe in one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins. There is also the issue of who does what in the sacrament of marriage.

    • Theodore Seeber

      Are we talking about the same Vatican I Doctrine of Infallibility that basically said that the Pope is very, very fallible?

      I would think that would be a plus- for it means that the Pope is bound to *not* contradict the decisions of councils.

    • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

      Ken, I don’t think the filioque is a big issue. After all, neither position can be demonstrated from biblical text or tangible discernment. Both positions are logical deductions, and given that both can be arrived at the obvious position is for both churches to not mandate a position and leave it to personal conscious.

      I’m not aware of differences in origianl sin. Perhaps you can explain. Personally with a little give by both sides, I think they could end the schism. But unfortunately it’s probably several generations away from being possible.

  • Knower

    I’ve found it interesting that while Eastern Orthodox Christians seem inclined to bristle and get uptight at the very word *Latin* — owing largely to atrocities and oppression which their ancestors suffered at the hands of “Latin” Crusaders and of subsequent “Latin” kingdoms in the East — nevertheless these Eastern Christians seem to have no such animus against the word *Roman*. Indeed, modern Greeks sometimes apparently refer to themselves as “Romans”: *Rōmaioi*. And they sometimes refer to their own popularly spoken “demotic Greek” as “Romaic”: *rōmaiika*.

  • Rick

    I looked at the list of things that Father Hopko said the Catholic Church needs to change. I didn’t even recognize the Catholic Church he describes. I wouldn’t be a Catholic if we believed many of the things he thinks we believe. That article gives me hope for reconciliation: many of our divisions seem to be misunderstandings of what the other teaches rather than actual heresy.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      The first step is just going to on another’s inaugurations and eating breakfast together. The important thing is for all Christians to support one another — whatever our denominational heritage — in the larger world.

  • FW Ken

    Manny,

    That was my point: to us Catholics the filoque is not a big deal. To the Orthodox, it is a really big deal. Read Fr. Hopko’s article: he gives a long list of Catholic doctrines and practices which have to go for reunion. Among those are the dogmas of the Immalate Conception.

    • Rick

      Many of the things Father Hopko mentions are not actually taught by the Catholic Church, for example that Catholics believe in modalism rather than three persons in the Trinity, that original sin is sexually transmitted and that it is a personal sin, that purgatory is a place and that “time” has any meaning in that state or condition, that substitionary atonement and an angry God demanding the life of an innocent man is the primary way of looking at the Sacrifice on Calvary (most Catholics I know find that idea repellent) . Father Hopko seems to be saying that Catholics believe things that may be taught by Calvinists, but not by the Catholic Church. I have hope for reunification when it becomes clearer than neither side has truly rejected the faith, but that the language we use to describe that one faith is very different.

      Like Rebecca said, the first step is getting to know each other and what each Church actually teaches not what we think it teaches.

      • Rebecca Hamilton

        What is modalism?

        • Rick

          There is one God, but not three persons in One God. Rather the one God manifests in different ways throughout history: sometimes appearing like a father, other times like a son, and other times like a spirit.

        • MaryMargaret

          I don’t always agree with this guy, but I think this video explains modalism pretty well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQLfgaUoQCw&list=UU2-3Cf7Hw10b3NW05p2Z7IA&index=2

          (There is also a truly great Lutheran Satire video called “Pick Your Pope”. Really made me LOL.)

          • Rebecca Hamilton

            That is great Mary Margaret. I learned a lot. modalism … partialism … and all about voltron. Thanks!

            • MaryMargaret

              He really does crack me up..and does some fine teaching on Christianity by “making fun of things”. Obviously, he is a Lutheran and I am a Catholic, so I don’t always think he is right, but I did think that this video was on point (and really funny).

        • Theodore Seeber

          http://carm.org/modalism

          Basically, it is a denial of trinitarianism, saying that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not three distinct persons, but rather “modes” or “avatars” of the monotheistic God.

          • Rebecca Hamilton

            Thanks Ted!

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  • OrthodoxBeliever

    I do not know why the Catholic Church always pressures our Church to reunite with them. Yes, in some people’s opinion we would then make a bigger Church, with more power, etc. But at what price? Both sides would have to compromise a lot of doctrinal beliefs, and then neither would the Roman Catholic Church be “Roman Catholic,” and the Eastern Orthodox Church would not be “Eastern Orthodox.” And let’s face it, the Western Church hardly compromised on anything in the 1270 Council of Lyons, or the 1438-1439 Council of Florence-Ferrara. The Orthodox Christians were forced both times to accept Papal infallibility, the addition of the Filioque to the Niceno-Constantnipolitan Creed, and other doctrines they did not agree, so they could get help against invading Muslims, from the Seljuk Turks, and then the Ottomans. I do not know why no one on this thread considered THAT piece of information!? In the end, the Byzantines (or more properly, Eastern Romans) were invaded by the Ottomans in May 1453 in one of the last vestiges of the Empire, the City of Constantinople, and then were invaded in the Kingdom of Nicea in 1461, and now the Empire no longer exists. Most Westerners know very, very little about the Church of the East, if anything at all, and only concentrate on the West (i.e, mainly Catholicism vs Protestantanism, but glean over the Church of the East, though it was pivotal to early church and christian history!) All of the 7 Ecumenical Councils were convoked in the East by different Byzantine emperors, never, ever by the pope himself! One time, the papal legates even came late to one of the councils (the 6th, in 680-681, the 3rd Council of Constantinople, which condemned Monoergism and Monothelitism.) And if I am not mistaken, there was another council or councils they came late to, and the pope had very little say in the matter. For example, the pope did not agree with the condemning of the “Three Chapters” in the 5th Ecumenical Council, the 2nd Council of Constantinople in 553 A.D, presided by Justinian and condemning Monophystism.
    The original meaning of the world “catholic,” means universal, and is used by Orthodox Christians too in the Nicene Creed, “…in one holy, catholic, and apostolic church…” and is used in the lower case, not the uppercase.
    Before, many years ago, there were “5″ Patriarchates, and the pope was only seen as a “First among Equals,” meaning his position in the Church did have great prestige and importance for Christians, but he did not originally get too involved in other churches affairs. The 5 Patriarchates were the “Pentarchy,” and were, in order of importance, from: Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem. The first patriarch of Rome was Peter, and he was once the first patriarch of Antioch, too. The first patriarch of Constantinople was Saint Andrew, the first patriarch of Alexandria was Saint Mark and the first patriarch of Jerusalem was Saint James, “Brother,” of the Lord (one of the very few faulty translations in the Bible, since the Hebrew word brother actually means cousin or kin, meaning that Mary, the blessed Virgin Theotokos, did remain a virgin her whole life, as well as Saint Joseph, the foster father of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.)

    The Eastern Orthodox Church regards Apostle Peter, together with Apostle Paul, as “Preeminent Apostles”. Another title used for Peter is Coryphaeus, which could be translated as “Choir-director”, or lead singer.[87] The church recognizes Apostle Peter’s leadership role in the early church, especially in the very early days at Jerusalem, but does not consider him to have had any “princely” role over his fellow Apostles.

    The New Testament is not seen by the Orthodox as supporting any extraordinary authority for Peter with regard to faith or morals. The Orthodox also hold that Peter did not act as leader at the Council of Jerusalem, but as merely one of a number who spoke. The final decision regarding the non-necessity of circumcision (and certain prohibitions) was spelled out by James, the Brother of the Lord (though Catholics hold James merely reiterated and fleshed out what Peter had said, regarding the latter’s earlier divine revelation regarding the inclusion of Gentiles).

    With regard to Jesus’ words to Peter, “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church”, the Orthodox hold Christ is referring to the confession of faith, not the person of Peter as that upon which he will build the church. This is allegedly shown by the fact that the original Greek uses the feminine demonstrative pronoun when he says “upon this rock” (ταύτ τ πέτρ); whereas, grammatically, if he had been referring to Peter, he would allegedly have used the masculine.

    The Orthodox Church thinks of all bishops as equal, and only leaders of their respective dioceses. All bishops have to agree in a synod or council for any slight change brought into the Orthodox Church, and tradition is almost impossible to change, and should not be changed. Also, all bishops have to get permission from any bishops of other dioceses even to give communion, liturgize a marriage, or anything else. All are autonomous to a certain degree.

    Also, the use of the Filioque is simply heretical, since the Holy Spirit does not divide against itself, the Holy Spirit is not less than the Son, like so many Western Christian, both Catholic and Protestant, as well as other less well known western denominations, affirm or imply. The Father is the Fountainhead of the Trinity, and both the Father and the Son receive their Divinity from the Father from before the begininning of time, and are truly equal with the Father, since “…The Father and I are… “ONE!” Same goes for the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son, this would make the Son a father in a way to the Holy Spirit, which is undoubtedly false, and smacks of Sabellianism, ( Sabellius was a 3rd century arch-heretic who confused the persons or hypostases in the hypostasis of the Holy Trinity, and said that the Father is the Son, the Son the Holy Spirit, etc. He got rid of the divisions of persons. There is no division of Essence in the Trinity, but there is a division of Persons) and is not based on holy scripture, and, as Saint Photius, holy Patriarch of Constantinople, once said:

    For if the Son and the Spirit came forth from the same cause, namely, the Father (even though the Spirit is by procession whilst the Son is by begetting); and if — as this blasphemy cries out — the Spirit also proceeds from the Son, then why not simply tear up the Word [Logos] and propagate the fable that the Spirit also produces the Son, thereby according the same equality of rank to each hypostasis by allowing each hypostasis to produce the other hypostasis? For if each hypostasis is in the other, then of necessity each is the cause and completion of the other. For reason demands equality for each hypostasis so that each hypostasis exchanges the grace of causality indistinguishably.

    Take that! And this was first introduced in the Third Council of Toldeo in May 589 A.D in Spain, marking the end of Arianism in Visigothic Spain. This Council obviously was not as ancient as that of the First Council of Nicea, (325 A.D) or the First Council of Constantinople, (381 A.D) which fleshed out the Creed slightly, but did not change the general meaning of the Creed. And the Filioque was added by Pope Nicholas I in his pontificate, ( 24 April 858 – 13 November 867) and he did not consider Saint Photius as rightful Patriarch, since Ignatius was his predecessor. Photius was eventually removed, Ignatius became the Patriarch again, and then Photius eventually took his rightful place again. This is called the “Photinian” schism of the 9th century, the first major schism between the west and the east. Also, Constantinople wanted the evangelize Greater Moravia (modern-day Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia) and Bulgaria, but the pope and the western church interfered. The Franks pushed the Byzantines out of Greater Moravia (the first saints to evangelize the Slavs were saints Methodius and Cyril, who invented the Glagolithic Alphabet, the predecessor of the Cyrillic Alphabet of most countries in Eastern Europe, to teach the Slavs about the beliefs of the Church. This was based on a dialect they heard in modern-day Macedonia.) Greater Moravia became Catholic, when it was originally going to be Orthodox, and the pope even gave his blessings, but we were cheated, as we were so often by the Latins. But Bulgaria, of course, became Orthodox, much to the dismay of the pope, in 861 A.D, under Saint and Ruler of Bulgaria, Czar Boris I.

    But later, Pope John VIII (13 December 872 – 16 December 882) recanted the Filioque heresy, and he even attended the 4th Council of Constantinople for Orthodox Christians (the 4th Council of Constantinople that the West recognizes is the one convoked in 869 – 870) in 879-880 A.D, when Photius was reinstated as Patriarch. The East won in Bulgaria, since they evangelized in different languages, and not just in Latin. Before this, both patriarchs had excomunicated each other. Other times they werent in communion with each other was during the time the monoenergist and metheletite heresies came about in the East ( monoergists believed in one energy of Christ, not two, and the monothelites, which came later, believed in one will of Christ, when Christ has two natures and two wills, human and divine. Though he did assume his human nature and will after the Incarnation in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of course, and his Divine Will and Nature were from the beginning of time. This schism was roughly from 634 – 681 A.D.) And of course there was the Iconoclastic controversy, when icons were destroyed, and the iconodules were persecuted, and ran away to the West, and asked for help, but help was not efficient enough to work out all that well. Iconoclasts ruled supreme at this time, unfortunately, and the first outbreak lasted from 725 to 787 A.D, when the second council of Constantinople was convoked by Empress Irene for political reasons. This period of icon veneration lasted to 815 A.D. The second outbreak lasted to 843 A.D. Empress Irene was not considered a real Roman Leader by the pope, since she was a woman, so the pope crowned Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor in 800 A.D. But these people were Germans and Franks, so they obviously weren’t connected to the Romans at all! And Eastern Rome was the only part of the empire to survive till this time, anyway! Western Rome were overrun by Goths, Lombards, Ostrogoths, Gauls and other barbaric people by 476 A.D, and they were only liberated by Justinian, the emperor from 527 A.D to 565 A.D, and they were ruled by the Byzantines, not the Westerners.

    And then Pope Benedict VIII ( 1012 – 1024 A.D) added the Filioque clause to the creed again in 1014 A.D under pressure from Holy Roman Emperor Stephen II. Also, the pope said he had papal infallibility, meaning anything he said could not be questioned by the church, and he did not need much permission to change doctrines when it suited him. He called himself the Vicar of Christ on Earth (totally unbiblical) and said he spoke for God and the WHOLE CHURCH! This completely contradicted the idea of the Pentarchy, and was a very arrogant claim from the pope. Christ leads our church, not the pope!

    Then there was the problem with zyme against azyme bread. Zyme is the leavened bread used by the Eastern Church, and Azyme is the bread used by the Western Church (or more commonly known as hosts or wafers.) Constantine IX spoke against Leo IX, Pope of Rome, and the Catholic Church’s use of wafers instead of leavened bread, calling them Judaisizers, since unleavened bread was used in the Old Dispensation, when we are now in the time of the New Dispensation, the leavened bread representing the New Covenant of Christ. Then Cardinal Humbert of Silva Candida comes into the picture. He was a French Cardinal. He was cordially welcomed by the Emperor Constantine IX, but spurned by the patriarch. Eventually, on 16 July 1054, despite the fact that Leo had died and the excommunication was invalid, during the celebration of the liturgy he laid a Papal Bull of excommunication of the Patriarch on the high altar of the Cathedral of Hagia Sophia. This event crystallized in an official way the gradual estrangement of Eastern and Western Christianity, and is traditionally used to date the beginning of the Great Schism. The Patriarch at the time was Michael I Cerularius. After this came the Crusades, the first being 1095 – 1099 called by Pope Urban, a French pope, and the first Crusade was mainly French in character, with Bohemund and all the others, who came to free the Holy land and Asia Minor from the Seljuk Turks, who came to Asia Minor in 1071 A.D, and had defeated the Byzantines in the Battle of Manzikert. Asia Minor was then slowly overrun by the Turkic Muslims, a land which was traditionally Eastern Orthodox for many, many years. This started the Sultanate of The Rum, a contemptuous name that made fun of the Byzantines, since these Seljuks were not Roman at all, but barbarians.

    Of course, the crusaders took much land for themselves, and were a constant thorn in the side for the Byzantines. They even pushed to Patriarch of Jerusalem out of the Holy Land, and set up a Latin Patriarchate! So, in the second crusade, the Byzantine Emperor gave no help at all, and the Crusaders failed in their objectives in the 1140′s. The worse was the 4th Crusade, though, when they invaded Constantinople, never made it to the Holy Land to recapture Jerusalem, Antioch, etc, and they raped nuns, destroyed religious and secular art, melting icons and other things into coins, desecrating churches, monasteries and convents, and setting up a French Prostitute as Patriarch of Constantinople, to make fun of the Eastern Faith. She sang lewd songs in the throne of the Patriarch. This was in 1204, when the West promised to help Isaac Angelos II regain his throne, but double-crossed him. The Latin Kingdom was set up at this time, and lasted until1261, so Byzantine successor states sprung, being the Despotate of Epirus, The Kingdom of Nicea, The Kingdom of Trebizond, etc. The Venetians also took much booty to Venice, and many Byzantine artifacts can be seen in St Mark’s Cathedral, even though they were originally allies of the Byzantine Empire. Before this, they took away a lot of the Byzantine Empire’s trade away. And before that, the Venetians were once Byzantine themselves.

    Some examples of artifacts taken away are the incense burners used in the ex-cathedral of Hagia Sophia, an icon of St Archangel Michael made in about the late 10th century and a 3rd century statue of horses which were in the Hippodrome of Constantinople, where chariot races happened and people were judged under the law as well. Strangely, the Venetians did not take any of the wealth of knowledge found in Greek books in the Byzantine Empire, though.

  • OrthodoxBeliever

    This knowledge would later lead to the Renaissance post-1453 and the taking of Constantinople by the Ottomans, which the Catholics did basically nothing to help their Christian brothers, except sending 400 Venetian archers to protect the walls of Constantinople, and it was too late by that stage. A man called Urban, who was from Hungary, and also a Catholic, invented even more superior gunpowder in 1452, and gave it to Sultan Mehmed II and the Ottomans, and helped double cross the Greeks. It is almost as if the Westerners wanted the Christian Empire of Byzantium to be done away with forever, which is absurd! This lead to many Christians dying for their faiths, churches being converted into mosques, people being forced to convert to Islam, and many other horrible things. Before this was the Battle of Varna in Bulgaria in 1444 and the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 against the Serbian Kingdom and Czar Lazar II, who was a very holy saint of Serbia and the Orthodox Church, who died valoursly.

    The Catholics also hardly fast, (just one week in Lent before Pascha or Easter) and their fasts aren’t even that strict. We fast 40 days before Easter, Wednesday and Friday every week, the 14 days leading to the Feast of the Dormition of the Virgin, which is on 15th of August, we fast on 25th of August, the day of the beheading of John The Baptist, 20 something of November to 24th of December before Christmas (or 6th of January in the Julian Calendar) for the Great Winter Fast, and other days. Married men and women aren’t allowed to cohabitate with each other during fast days, and we must refrain from eating meat, fish, dairy products, and then olive oil, if it is a strict fast day. We also do not fast on Saturdays, unlike Catholics. This makes us more like spiritual warriors than the Catholics, with all our fasting, as well as our standing in traditional Orthodox churches, with no pew seats. During the Divine Liturgy, we also cross ourselves as we please, (with 3 fingers, which is much more symbolic of the Trinity, and not our whole hands, and from East to West, not West to East, unlike the Catholics) and kiss the holy icons as we please when appropriate, and the presbyter or bishop is not censing the altar with incense or anything else important. It is much more organized and beautiful than Catholic worship. Our Liturgies usually last 1 and a half to 3 hours, and the whole thing is sung. We also kiss the Gospel books and eat the bread with the wine. Heterodox are not allowed to eat this. Only confirmed Orthodox Christians can. We also have no kneelers, and don’t do genuflecting in churches or monasteries and convents.
    Our confession is different too, and we do not do it in confessional boxes or confession rooms, we do it at the altar, and the priest lays his stole on your head, and listens to your confession then, and the deacon reads a part of the bible out to you.
    Our priests can marry as well, if done before their ordination, but then can’t become bishops. Only celibate priests and monastic men can become bishops. Our clergy and monastic community usually have beards, too!
    We do not believe in the stations of the Cross, the use of the Rosary, or other Catholic beliefs. We use a prayer rope instead, and pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” multiple times. We also do many prostrations.
    We also do not believe in Evolution aided by God, unlike the Catholics, since this is not biblical, and is an erroneous concession to liberal modernists just to get more people into their pews. We prefer quality over quantity! And they say that Muslims believe in the same God as Christians, when this is not true at all, since they deny the Divinity of Christ and the Holy Spirit, say that we should all pay Jizyah tax for our lives or die, or alternatively convert to Islam, and that they can perform Jihad on us, (religious war) and make all infidels faces as flat as the back of our necks! Islam hates Christianity! They even think all people who don’t accept their fake prophet will go to Hell! And their false god Allah was originally believed to be a moon god in pre-Islamic times in the Middle East, and he had two daughters, who were goddesses, one called Al-Manat and the other called AL-Lat. They had many other celestial gods as well. This is why they say Alluha Al Akbhar (Allah is the greater.) This practice came from pagan times. They used to cry it out on mountains and sand dunes. And their Kabbah was only built in the 4th century A.D (even though they say Abraham built it, which many archaeologists disagree with this dating, obviously) , and there were many other Kabbahs, as well! And they were all filled with idols to various gods before the socio-political wars of Muhammad, when he finally took over Makkah in 629 A.D. The whole Hajj and Umrah come from older pagan traditions, including the circumambulation, which used to be done in the nude, the cutting or shaving of the hair after the pilgrimage, and many other things. Their story about Abraham is different, too! They say Abraham was going to sacrifice Ishmael, not Isaac! So they believe in the god of Abraham, ISHMAEL, and Jacob! Which is obviously wrong. And they deny the belief in Saints as intercessories, monasticism, confession, the sacraments, monogamy and other important beliefs of traditional Christianity. So they don’t believe in the same God as us, despite what the various popes have being saying since the Vatican II Council of 1962-1965. And one of the popes even had a Mass where they directed it towards the Kabbah in Makkah, a Pagan shrine! And Pope John Paul II kissed a Qu’aran once, too! A people that wish for Christianity to be done away with, and for Islam to reign supreme. The Patriarch of Constantinople is under the authority of the Turkish government, as well as the Patriarch of Anthioch, and only Turkish citizens can be the Patriarch of Constantinople or Antioch (even though there are only 3000-4000 Greeks left in Turkey.) Also, the Seminary College of Halki has been closed since 1971, and the Turkish Government refuses to re-open, forcing clerics to go abroad for Theological and Religious Education. Greece should really be the ones choosing the Patriarchs, not the Turks! And the Patriarchate is in danger of being extinct in the next 75 years if these things continue to happen. And the Turkish government, as well as the everyday Turk, is thinking of turning the Hagia Sophia Museum back into a mosque, which would meant the covering up of the very few icons left in the Hagia Sophia (the others were destroyed by the Turks in the 15th Century during the siege, as well as the iconostasis, Gospel books, and other things.) The Hagia Sophia already hardly resembles a church anymore, when it was meant to be a church, and was one for just over 900 years! It was the largest church in the world for a long time, and was a feat of Byzantine engineering. The Muslims could never build something nearly as beautiful. Even many ideas for mosques came from the architecture in Orthodox Churches, like our patterns and the domes on the churches. The Turkish government seems to want to destroy any last trace of Asia Minor’s rich Christian past, and they have already turned some other museums back into mosques. All the convents and monasteries are gone, too. And they say these people have the SAME God as us!! And Christians in the Middle East are treated badly too, like in Syria and Lebanon, and must flee to Christian countries for their lives in some of the more extreme cases, and all other religions but Islam are forbidden in Saudi Arabia. If you bring an icon through emigration, for example, and they find it, in some cases they smash them, since they are wicked iconoclasts! And they seem to think matter made by God is bad. How very, very Gnostic of them. It resembles Manichaeism, too!

    Then there are the Novus Ordo clown masses of the Catholic Church, little incense, use of carnival style masses with guitars and Evangelical-style singing, Protestant hymns, nuns wearing short habits that expose their legs and some of their hair and arms, few icons in their churches, smashing of altars to modernize them for post-Vatican II standards, ugly, uninspiring, unspiritual looking churches that look like Protestant churches, priests dressed in bland and boring outfits with black shirts, jackets and pants, as well as a dog collar, making them look like Protestant ministers, the use of organs, people receiving Communion with their hands instead of their mouths, altar girls, women giving the body and blood of Christ, as well as over Laity, with the priest or bishop, when this is not canonical practice, and is highly insulting to God, and other things. Also, Catholics don’t use iconostasis, and Catholic art, since the Renaissance, has been 3 dimensional, little influenced by spirituality, and greatly influenced by different art movements of the times, like Baroque. Orthodox Christians have flat, 2 dimensional icons made either in mosaic, fresco or on plaque. All icons are made to follow rigidly the art from the past of the church, is purely devotional, and can’t be changed. This is so we can devote ourselves to Jesus, his Mother, the Saints and the Angels, since our devotion passes the prototype to what is depicted in the image, and we realize we can’t 100 percent depict what they look like in real life, but we have a good idea of it. That is why the Catholic Faith’s semi-iconoclasm is dead wrong.
    We don’t have statues, either.

    Also, they believe in Scholasticism, when we find this method of Thomas Aquinas and other important people in this movement of the 12th and 13th century highly cold, austere, and lacking in spirituality. We follow the Church Fathers and Patristic texts, and are more spiritual. We have Hesychasm, which was actually first developed by St Anthony of Egypt, Abba Moses, Abba Poemen, Saint Evagrius of Pontus, and other saints in the Egyptian Desert, where Monasticism and the life of the hermit as well, were first born. Monasticism came later to the West, a la Benedict, who came up with the idea of orders, which is nowhere to be found before that time. Hesychasm just received its name in the 14th century and became more popular because of Saint Gregory Palamas. But it existed long before that. When it comes to Scholasticism and Patristics, just compare the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and Thomas Aquinas’s interpretation of it in the Summa Theologica, and you will catch my drift. Scholasticism is based on Plato, Aristotle and other Pagan writers, and uses reason more than faith, and hardly makes any quotes from the Bible.
    The Catholics also say that some people who commit suicide might still be able to go to Heaven, even when they take their lives. But our Church knows this is wrong, since Judas himself, for example, was said to be accursed by Saint Simon Peter for taking his life, and this is very fatalistic, and destroying something God made, a temple of the Holy Spirit. Also, it makes one despair of receiving God’s mercy, and that things will get better, and in salvation, redemption, deification and many other things. You are so precious. Don’t say that people like this go to Heaven. Suicide is the only sin which we cannot repent from, since we are killing ourselves, and the dead cannot repent once in Hades or the Land of the Dead. It is simply impossible! God gives us ample time to repent while still alive. Why squander your opportunities?

    People can marry up to 3 times, too, as a “…concession to human weakness…” and the weddings after the first are more solemn, since the man or woman, or both, have failed in their previous marriage, and what they did was a sin, but forgivable. The Catholic idea of marriage is slightly unhealthy. Yes, people should try to stay together, but they should also be allowed a second chance if things do not turn out as they hoped, and the person is not the right person for them. Marriage should be joyous, not a burden. All marriages have their problems, though, that’s for sure. But I do believe that marriage is a Holy Sacrament instituted by God, without a doubt in my heart. It is surpassed only by widowhood, and then, best of all, consecrated virginity for “…the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven…”

    And we put more emphasis as well on deification, (becoming like God, restoring his likeness we lost through ancestral sins, and putting things right again, bringing us back to our original state in Paradise on Earth in Eden, like the original innocence of Adam and Eve. We mainly only retained his Image, since all humans are made in God’s Image) than redemption, unlike the Catholics, and we are less legalistic about these things. One must not understand Christ’s Crucifixion being equivalent to paying death money to the Devil! He did it to put a death to sins and to death, and to put an end to the Old Mosaic Law, bringing about salvation in God’s Son and Person Christ, and to be made like him by participating in his energies (synergism.) It is a much more forgiving version of God which we believe in, compared to the Church of Rome.
    Also, we do not believe in Purgatory, since it is not mentioned in the Bible, neither in the 7 Ecumenical councils. We don’t believe in Augustine’s idea of Original sin either, and his beliefs on human redemption and salvation. Every man is guilty for his own sin only. Adam’s sin and guilt is not passed down each generation through copulation and seminal discharge. That’s absurd! Adam’s sin only brought in the conspucience for sin. In the Orthodox Church the term ancestral sin (Gr. προπατορικό αμάρτημα) is preferred and is used to define the doctrine of man’s “inclination towards sin, a heritage from the sin of our progenitors” and that this is removed through baptism. St. Gregory Palamas taught that man’s image was tarnished, disfigured, as a consequence of Adam’s disobedience. We also do not believe in the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, since we have a different idea of original sin. Mary was born with Original Sin, but never sinned herself.
    Our Bible is bigger than the Catholic Bible, too, and we use the Septuagint as our Old Testament, which is A Greek translation. Our books in the Old Testament are, in order: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Kingdoms, (1 Samuel for Catholics) 2 Kingdoms, (2 Samuel) 3 Kingdoms, (1 Kings) 4 Kingdoms, ( 2 Kings) 1 Chronicles, ( 1 Paraleipomenon) 2 Chronicles, ( 2 Paraleipomenon) 1 Ezra, 2 Ezra, Nehemiah, Tobit, Judith, Esther, 1 Maccabees, 2 Macabees, 3 Macabees, Psalms, (151 in number in our Bible) Job, Proverbs of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach, (Ecclesiaticus or church book) Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, Lamentation of Jeremiah, Epistle of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel (includes the prayer of Manasseh, then Susanna at beginning of Daniel, Hymn of the three young men in the middle, and the story of Bel and the Serpent at the end.) There is also 1 and 2 Esdras.The New Testament is the same, though, but the translation is slightly different. The Catholics edited out some books of the bible which are found in the Greek Septuagint, the oldest comprehensive old Testament.

    Vatican II is a joke, quite frankly. What is so great or so religious about it? And if our churches unite, do you wish us to adopt all these malpractices?

    Deep down inside, I know it will never happen. We know the truth. Ecumenism will one day end, and we will stay in our repective churches. But, if any Catholic wishes to come to Orthodoxy, we shall welcome you.

    Amen.

  • vodmatlj

    Quite depressing tractate.
    Confirming my observation that the most orthodox believers are very rigid and self-satisfied. They tend to exaggerate any unimportant difference and they are completely untouched by John17.
    With such attitude, I can agree in one point – NO HOPE :-(


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