Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ultramontanism lives

With the caveat that I am (really) an admirer of Benedict XVI; if you want an example (albeit extreme) of why Orthodox sometimes say that the Roman Catholic Church has only one bishop and a large number of mitred papal legates take a look at this essay over at Rorate Caeli and then glance at the comments. That said the RCC, especially in much of Western Europe has gone so far off the rails that they desperately need someone with the authority to crack the proverbial whip. I think the Roman Church has gone for so long as a one man show that if the papacy ever reverted to its proper role there would be complete anarchy. What a mess.


Ochlophobist said...

This is the sort of thing is now normative in the RCC.

So many of the commenters attack the notion of collegiality, but what would be best would be that many of the other RCC bishops rose together and condemned the liberal lunacy among the bishops in Austria. But, of course, they cannot do that, in part because the vast majority of them allow some degree of that lunacy in their own dioceses, and so forth.

When one sees these sorts of messes, and the hundreds of pictures of modern Catholic churches in Europe on that modernist Catholic architecture watch blog, right under the Pope's nose, an Orthodox with any sense has to ask why on earth we would ever entertain the notion that it would be a good thing to hope for communion with the RCC as a communion.

The only reasonable reason to accept the Papacy would be a dogmatic reason, and Orthodox, I think it fairly safe to say all of us who think about such things, reject the Papacy as defined by VatI. Those who lust for re-union because of their misreading of John 17 and their sentimental ecumenist leanings are blind for a number of reasons, but first and foremost they are blind to the obvious insanity of what it would mean to be in communion with a communion that has no hold on its own tradition, or tradition of any coherent sort. That is the modernist cancer in the RCC, not a few bad bishops here and there, but the disintegration of traditions and Tradition all about it. Even if we lay aside dogma, which we should not do for long, there remains this obstacle. Orthodox bicker among themselves now with regard to modernist influences in our communion, but nothing of the sort one sees in the RCC. To thrust that anarchy and madness upon us would be to our own destruction.

The neo-Caths and all their syllogisms defending the Papacy. If ever there were a sign of the folly of man putting himself in the place of God.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Whew! What a mess.

Ditto what the Ochlophobist said.

Anonymous said...


I'm a new convert and very sentimental, but I have a great deal of compassion for those Catholics who seek to obey their rightful Bishops (my understanding is that the Orthodox Church still considers Catholic Bishops ordination and succession valid) in the midst of this mess (just like I feel for the Orthodox following schismatic Bishops).

When I think of desiring unity with the so-called Western Church, this is what I'm thinking of, not the righteousness of their Bishops or even the rightness of their doctrine, but the salvation of those souls.

I'm glad that I am not (nor will I ever be) required to decide the terrible tragedy of when the truth is corrupted "enough" to break communion and call into question (or even declare objectively) the borders of the body of Christ. God has not seen fit to burden me with the disaster of my Bishop being cast out by others.

Let us pray for all those who's pastors have failed them.

Ochlophobist said...

my understanding is that the Orthodox Church still considers Catholic Bishops ordination and succession valid

Sacramental validity is RC canonical language. Some Orthodox borrow this language and apply it to their understanding of the question of grace in RC orders. Others do not. Most Orthodox bishops and theologians remain agnostic to the question of necessary grace in the Mysteries of other faiths. But it is easy to conclude that the "sacramental validity" language is normative, because those bishops and theologians who use this language happen to be quite vocal among Orthodox circles in the West.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

I totally agree with you. The problem with Roman bishops is that when you take a look at them and subtract the overt heretics and then eliminate the guys who couldn't make up their mind to take a bathroom break with out a message from Rome saying it was OK, what you are left with is not encouraging. Setting aside the many real theological issues, the papacy and Vatican I is a huge sticking point. Orthodoxy simply does not subscribe to an ecclesiology based on the church being some sort of divine right absolute monarchy. And that is what the RCC has become.

There is much to admire about Roman Catholicism. But when it comes right down to it, they are not Orthodox. And they have strayed so very far from us that I see no realistic hope of that changing.

Under the mercy,

Anonymous said...

Re "Ultramontanism lives"

What I see is that it is actually effectively dead through democratization.

Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

I think it's better to say that there was much to admire about Roman Catholicism, prior to the post-Vatican II fiasco. Roman Catholicism actually worked back then, and was thriving, in fact. Not any more.

The only "reunion" that will happen is the one available to us all who grew up separated from the Holy Church: convert. Rome has painted itself into a dogmatic corner, and not only won't, but can't change. The jig is up. Time to save souls.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, Vat 2 and modernisations is an effective pragmatic argument.

While the Orthodox may be accused of not being able to do anything because of the lack of central control... well, I consider that a Godsend, considering what the ability to change has caused for Catholicism. We'd only need ultramontanism if we needed something, Church-wide, to change...

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine thinks that the recent (last three decades) interest in the Orthodox East by Rome's better children has more to do with their seeking a cure rather than their offering the ailing a hand. All except the most triumphalist of Latins know that their cancer is quite advanced, and they think that unity with us would strengthen a joint body (two lungs, remember) to fight it.

They look at our external disorders, and they think that Roman administrative discipline could help us out. Then, they call it a mutually beneficial match.

In my opinion, they underestimate Western apostasy and Greek stubbornness.

Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

Well, Rome's supposed "administrative discipline" is something of a sham. On the books, it all looks nice and tight, keeping everything under control, but look instead to the reality: the utter liturgical chaos, the chaos of belief in the parishes, the outright heresy here and there, all of which goes either unpunished or with only wrist-slaps. There is nothing there to admire.

Anonymous said...

So no one has read what the prposed bishop, ( who has declined the offer), had to say about Hurricane Katrina?

James Bellisario said...

Wow, you guys really shouldn't throw rocks in your glass house. None of your bishops agree on anything. You can't even keep your doctrines straight, allowing divorce and remarriage multiple times, as well as allowing the use of contraception. We may have dissident bishops, but our doctrines and dogmas have not become corrupted as yours have, especially when it comes to sexual morality and bioethics. Without the Pope you will always have disunity.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Thanks for stopping by. I think you are confusing us with Old Catholics or some such other group which we are not. Our doctrine is indeed straight. The "doctrine" and "dogma" you are taking us to task for are Roman Catholic add ons. Our doctrine is contained in the OEcumenical Councils (the first 7 recognized in theory by Rome and the 8th and 9th which you do not recognize) as also the consensus patrum and various other sources. On the essential points contained therein the Orthodox Church is in full agreement. The other points are theologumen or matters of church discipline.

The issue of contraception is not dogmatic although it is controversial. Divorce and remarriage were tolerated (though always disapproved of) in both the West and the East during the age of the undivided Church. The Orthodox follow the ancient discipline of the Church in prohibiting 4th marriages which the West now tolerates. Of course there is no "right" to a second or third marriage. Such is permitted only by economy.

For you to say that we are heretics (which is what implicitly you are accusing us of)is to condemn the early Church. We haven't changed. But Rome has.

Modernism thy home is in Rome.


Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

"None of your bishops agree on anything."

Hyperbole or ignorance?

Look at our parishes. You see one liturgy in all of them, ancient and magnificent. You do not see the chaos Romans have. Lex orandi lex credendi, as it has been put. We have one faith and one practice of it throughout the world, unlike you supposedly unified Romans.

We at least acknowledge our problems and work to solve them (divorce and contraception), rather than sweep them under the carpet (sex abuse, disobedience, heresy, etc).

The fact stands: many Roman clergy and laity do not obey the Pope as they should and receive no punishment at all. The reputation for rigid and functional authoritarianism among Romans is a sham.

Anonymous said...

Oh cut it out. Such comments as the above are juvenile, ( I include both "sides).

The point is- have anyone of you actually examined the controversy in question and the principles involved?

If anyone has, it's clear that the Austrian bishops are more "Orthodox" in their view than holding an "ultramontane" view. If it was the latter, the candidate in question would now be a bishop.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Yes. I think you will find that quite a few of us have examined the controversies involved. As for the Austrian bishops being more Orthodox, I find that a rather dubious proposition unless your limiting your frame of reference to ecclesiology. Even there I am not so sure given that their criteria for rejecting him appears to be his theological "orthodoxy" (from the RC perspective).

The bottom line pretty much remains what Owen (the Ochlophobist) wrote in his first comment. The Roman Catholic Church is a disaster on wheels and is so far separated theologically from Orthodoxy that there is no reasonable hope for restoration of communion.

Under the mercy,

James Bellisario said...

What? Show me where Jesus, or His apostles told us it was OK to have 3 remarriages? None of the Ecumenical councils tell us that we can get remarried 3 times like we are changing out dirty laundry. Jesus was clear about this. Divorce, and remarriage is immoral, period.

Also contraception is dogmatic since it is a moral action dealing the use of the sexual faculties. It is is clear that you cannot use the sexual faculties for something in complete opposition to the reason that God created it for. You cannot separate the unitive from the procreative. This is where you are in gross error.

The Orthodox Church followed the Protestants in their acceptance of contraception in the 1930s. Before that it was a unanimous teaching that a contraceptive mentality cannot be tolerated by a Christian. the Catholic Church is the only church left that follows all teachings of Jesus Christ, not the Orthodox. Sorry.

Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

And you, Matthew, where do you find this canon that enforces Orthodox use of contraception? Last I checked, Orthodox are certainly making babies.

I've heard from the lips of my own Orthodox bishop a denunciation of the use of contraception and abortion. There's nothing more conclusive than that. You probably read a tract or some idiot on a discussion board going on about Ferrara or Florence or some other dreck.

Don't lecture the Orthodox on divorce and remarriage when your typically legalistic Roman solution was to weasel out of such a perceived rule through the invention of annulments, basically allowing people an unlimited number of marriages. We allow, and have only allowed for well over a millennium, at most only three marriages for prince or pauper, have no annulments, and heartily and readily admit the very thing that came from our Lord's lips: that this is done only because of the weakness of the people, which part of His statement you have obviously forgotten. How convenient (and merciless) for you.

Get your own house in order before insisting that anyone else's is messy.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Please cite a source for these claims of dogma that predates the schism. The problem with your claims is that they are based on the Latin concept of doctrinal development which is decidedly un-Orthodox. If your claims regarding divorce are true they will no doubt be upheld by any quick examination of the practice of the Church ante-Schism. Lets take a look at that.

I refer you to the (Western) synod of Elvira (300-314 AD), specifically canons VIII - XI which clearly affirm the possibility of divorce and remarriage for acceptable cause. I also refer you to Canon IV of St Basil's (330-379 AD) Epistle 188 which reads...

In the case of those who marry a third time they laid down the same guide, in proportion, as in the case of marrying a second time; namely one year for the second marriage (some authorities say two years); for a third marriage men are separated for three and often for four years; but this is no longer described as marriage at all, but as polygamy; nay rather as limited fornication. It is for this reason that the Lord said to the Samaritan woman who had five husbands, "he whom thou now hast is not thy husband." He does not reckon those who had exceeded the limits of a second marriage as worthy of the title of husband or wife. In cases of a third marriage we have accepted a seclusion of five years [i.e. permitted no further than the narthex], not by the canons, but following the precept of our predecessors. Such offenders ought not to be altogether prohibited from the privileges of the Church; they should be considered deserving of hearing after two or three years, and afterwards of being permitted to stand in their place; but they must be kept from the communion of the good gift [i.e. permitted into the nave, but barred from the Mysteries], and only restored to the place of communion after showing some fruit of repentance.

This canon was subsequently affirmed by the fourth, sixth, and seventh OEcumenical Councils. Are you contending that three of the first seven OEcumenical Councils erred on such an important matter?

Then there is this from Doors to the Sacred: A Historical Introduction to Sacraments in the Catholic Church. by Dr. Joseph Martos (a Roman Catholic)...

During the first three centuries of Christianity, then, the fathers of the church did not say much about marriage, but when they did they talked about it as an important aspect of Christian life, not as an ecclesiastical institution. When Christians married they did so according to the civil laws of the time, in a traditional family ceremony, and often without any special church blessing on their union. The early Christian writers implicitly accepted the government's right to regulate marriage and divorce, and when they spoke about marriage they usually limited themselves to pastoral matters, affirming the goodness of marriage, urging Christians to marry within their own community, and warning them not to get drunk and unruly at wedding feasts. The bishops did not approve of divorce but they did not absolutely prohibit it, and they even allowed remarriage in some places that we know of and perhaps others.

I am sorry, but your claims are spurious. They flow from Rome's hyper legalistic approach to marriage as a sacrament which developed over many centuries and can not be reconciled with the more humane and pastoral discipline of the early Church. I reiterate that no Orthodox Christian would argue that divorce is a good thing. But it does happen. Remarriage is strongly discouraged in Orthodoxy but in certain cases it is tolerated out of a pastoral care for the wounded soul. I again refer you to the words of your co-religionist Dr. Martos from his already cited work on the practice of the Orthodox Church...
It sometimes happens, however, that Christians do not live up to their spiritual calling, that they do not live up to what was symbolized and initiated in their baptism and marriage, and it sometimes happens drastically and publicly as in the case of apostasy and divorce. When it does happen the church does not approve of it but it does recognize it as a fact. Christian should not renounce their faith, and they should not be divorced, but when these things happen they must be recognized as realities, and ways must be found to be found to deal with the persons involved justly and mercifully. In the case of lapsed Christians, the way is always left open to reconciliation with the church, and in the case of divorced Christians the way is left open to reconciliation with each other or, if that is not possible, to remarriage. Orthodox churches, therefore, do not grant divorces but they do allow for the possibility that Christians might receive a civil divorce and later want to remarry. Rather than exclude the innocent and repentant from communion in the church, then, they allow divorced Christians to remarry in the church as a concession to human needs and imperfections even though this second marriage cannot symbolize, as the first one did, the union between the one head and the one body of the church. Thus this second marriage is recognized as a real marriage but it is not regarded as a sacramental marriage, for it is not a full sign of the unique and eternal commitment that the first one promised to be. It is an approach to marriage which focuses on the liturgical aspects of the sacrament rather than on its juridical aspects, for that is the early church tradition out of which it grew.

As a side note I am not altogether sure about his rejection of the sacramental nature of the 2nd marriage but broadly speaking this is an unusually accurate (for a Roman Catholic) description of the Orthodox position on divorce.

The issue of contraception has never been really even discussed in Orthodoxy until the last century. That said you are correct that the Church's traditional teaching was hostile to the practice, though it has never been defined as dogma. In the last century or so it has become a topic of debate. It may well take some time to sort it out.

My own opinion is that BC should be used rarely if at all and then only in cases where there would be grave medical risks attendant on a pregnancy. That said the Roman teaching that marriage exists primarily for procreation is not and has never been accepted in Orthodoxy. However it is the teaching of the Church that marriage can not exclude procreation. Those who do not want children may not marry in the Orthodox Church.


John (Ad Orientem) said...

I think this is a good moment to remind posters to debate vigorously but not personally. Discussion (even heated discussion) is fine. Just don't get personal or snarky please. Not saying anyone has crossed the line, but I sense the temperature of the comments rising. Thanks...


James Bellisario said...

My first question is where is that statement ((Western) synod of Elvira (300-314 AD), specifically canons VIII - XI) made a by this local council, upheld by the Ecumenical councils that you mentioned? I want a specific source please where the Ecumenical Council tells us 3 marriages are permitted citing this canon specifically, thereby justifying your position. I will thank you for the source in advance.

Next, just because the early Church in the East allowed the government to dictate marriage laws doesn't necessarily mean that it was right in its rulings. Thirdly an annulment is just the proclamation of a marriage not existing from the beginning. It is not dismissing a marriage as you implied here.

"Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery," Matthew 19:9.

Whosoever. . . applies to ALL people. And again: "Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband and be married to another, she committeth adultery," Mark 10:11.

Therefore remarriage is impossible. I am just curious, what makes the 4th time marriage the big crossing over the line? Why not 7 times? I am just curious.

Anonymous said...

Oh I don't think the Rc Church is any more a disaster on wheels than the Orthodox Church.
Both are facing the same situation and both are reacting in their time honoured way- one strives to reimpose order while the other retreats to what's considered a safe haven.

James Bellisario said...

Just to clarify, regarding that source, quoting someone book like Dr. Martos' isn't going to cut it. I want to see the actual text of the Ecumenical council that tells us that 3 marriages are OK. Just making a statement that they accepted it is not good enough for me. So I would like to see the text that was written and stated by the Ecumenical Councils themselves. Do you have the actual book "Doors the the Sacred" that has an actual reference to this particular Ecumenical statement by the Church? A local Council is not binding on the whole Church, so we must have an agreement by an Ecumenical Council. Thanks again.

Ochlophobist said...

The RC writer that John quotes follows a line of thought Ratzinger articulated before he was made Pope. It is a misreading of Greek canon law, as well, obviously, of the fact that in the Orthodox Church the marriage rite is different for 2nd and 3rd marriages (there being no rites allowed for 4th or more marriages), namely 2nd and 3rd marriages are conducted with a penitential rite. I wrote of this on a post once on my own blog, if I may be so arrogant as to quote myself:

The EOC has a long standing tradition of allowing three marriages, even second and third marriages to those who have been divorced, if there has been and continues to be a repentance. The Greeks require something similar to an annulment process, but it is not at all theologically the same as a RCC annulment (contrary to the suggestion of BenXVI), and the Slavs require no such process. All Orthodox normally require a penitential marriage rite for second and third marriages, which some Catholics have suggested means that we recognize that only the first marriage is the real marriage, but a good priest friend of mine once told me that the more penitential an Orthodox rite is, the more real the reality it represents, and besides, if the penitentially rited marriage blessings are not blessing real marriages, then what are they? Church permissions for previously married people to have sex? Please. Orthodox discipline regarding marriage is different from RC discipline regarding marriage, and it is hard to conceive of Rome changing their position on Christian marriage, which begs questions. If Rome were not to insist that Orthodoxy change its marriage discipline, then it would seem that it would consider its own teaching on marriage arbitrary. If it did not allow Orthodoxy to continue its own marriage and remarriage discipline then it would be interfering with Orthodox canons which predate the schism, hence, it would be going further than Popes of the first millennium went. You get the point here, that dog don't hunt...

The dog I refer to in that quote is the oft mentioned notion raised by Ratzinger when a Cardinal and then by him as BenXVI, that for the Orthodox to “reunite” with the RCC it would only have to accept what it accepted at the end of the first Christian millennium. The Orthodox and RC disciplines regarding divorce reflect theologies which are simply at serious odds.

Also, one should note before assuming an utter laxity on the part of the Orthodox that they have kept an ancient tradition which the West now has completely abandoned, the notion that remarriage after death is not a right but only allowed via economia. Those 2nd and 3rd marriages referred to above include remarriages after the death or deaths of spouse or spouses. In fact, from an Orthodox canonical point of view, it matters little whether or not a remarriage occurs after a death or after a divorce, at least I far as I understand the canons on the matter. In the contemporary West, a death grants the widow or widower a free ticket to ride. One might have 15 dead spouses and remarry. I understand that in a footnote somewhere the RCC still “encourages” layfolks to consider not remarrying in such a situation. The Orthodox Church offers economia and a penitential rite and before that a reminder that we are called to not remarry.

James Bellisario said...

OK, where is the text of the Ecumenical Councils telling us that up to 3 marriages are OK?

Anonymous said...


When I hear Latins defend an annulment when there clearly was a marriage, it reminds me of Protestants who maintain that Christians cannot sin and go to hell after having been "saved." Those who do "never really accepted Jesus" . . .

Now, annulments have their place. The odd incident with Jacob and Leah/Rachel would be a good candidate for annulment. Forced marriages and Green Card-and-run marriages would be occasions for annulments. Yet, when a real marriage has taken place, and then through sin, it crumbles, it is dishonest casuistry to pretend that a marriage never occurred. What of the children of such a Christian marriage -- sealed in the Church? Are they bastards?

Anonymous said...

Alas the title of this post is absolutely accurate: Ultramontanism is very much alive and more unpleasant in its form than even Pio Nono days.

The problem is that the RCC has nothing else. Long ago it gave up its Tradition and started on the dangerous path to having the magical 'super bishop', indeed supra-bishops. No longer did the liturgy grow from seeds where it was planted by the Fathers but became imposed from the office of professional bureaucrats in Rome. Likewise traditions such as fasting were mitigated to virtual non-existence by papal decree.

It is sad. Vatican II actually moved the RCC slightly towards the Church: e.g. Bishops gained some degree of autonomy, but no where near enough; the importance of the Invocation in the anaphora was reaslised etc. The current papal fashion moves it further away as the Rorate Caeli types salivate over the latest decree of Christ's supposed vicar.

The papacy is a blasphemy, period.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

I think you are missing the point. It is you who have dogmatized the absolute prohibition against remarriage. We have not dogmatized any requirement for three marriages or two or even one. The prohibition against 4th marriages is not dogma. It is an immemorial discipline of the Church which is far older than the Latin discipline proscribing marriage for priests. It was at one time observed in the West as well.

I believe I have amply demonstrated that although strongly discouraged there was a certain tolerance for divorce in the Church in both the East and West prior to the schism. If are claiming that the discipline of the ancient church was wrong and that Rome eventually got it right by prohibiting divorce under all circumstances that's fine. I don't agree, but then again I am not Roman Catholic and I disagree with a lot of what Rome does and teaches.

If on the other hand you wish to assert that there was some sort of definitive teaching on this matter that predates the schism and was recognized as such by the undivided Church then please cite your source and evidence. I have requested this before but you keep acting like we Orthodox must justify the historic discipline of the Church. The burden of proof lies with Rome which claims that the practice of the first millennium was wrong.

Under the mercy,

Anonymous said...

Pax Tecum!

What I dont understand is that, with all the problems surrounding both our Churches (most especially Unity within).. why is it that even us, the laity, cannot contain ourselves to keep to the hope that even if we cannot be UNITED, we could and should at least coexist together as Churches of the same Faith..

let us pray that Unity among our own Churches (the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church) be the first priority of each then maybe, with the Grace of God and if He wil make it so, we may be One again.

Vivere in Pace!

James Bellisario said...

I am not missing the point. No, I have not dogmatized the prohibition of re-marriage, Jesus Christ has. It seems to me that you are unable to provide any source from an Ecumenical council to defend your position which is in opposition to what Jesus said. Governments do not decide morality, nor what marriages are binding, or how many you can have.

You tried to tell me that the Ecumenical Councils tell us that multiple divorce and re-marriages are accepted. Yet none of you have proven this. As I stated before, just because it happened doesn't mean that is was right. Where is the source that you said existed? I am still waiting. Why is the burden of proof on me? You are the ones who said the Ecumenical Councils adopted this position. I simply have asked for a source, which none of you so far has provided.

Ochlophobist said...

Mr. Bellisario,

I did not make the reference to the Ecumenical Council, because the canon involved will not suit an RC, and thus the issue is somewhat pointless to discuss, not to mention that this information is available in virtually any work on the Orthodox understanding of marriage, but, nonetheless, I shall answer you.

The matter has to do with the canon 87 of the Sixth Council.

See here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.xiv.iii.lxxxviii.html

Canon 87 quotes canon 4 of St. Basil verbatim. St. Basil's rule with regard to remarriage was followed throughout the East from the mid 5th century until the ninth century, when the canonical situation regarding remarriage for Orthodox became what I describe above. With St. Basil's and the 6th Council’s canons here is how it works - remarriage (for any reason) is forbidden, but not in the manner that Latins forbid things. A marriage was acknowledged at that time by the married couple receiving Holy Eucharist together at Divine Liturgy. What canon 87 and canon 4 describe is the penance required for those who have remarried and who wish to return to full communion with the Church. At the end of that penance, if repentance and tears are shown, both parties are allowed to return to the Chalice -- as a married couple (or one of that couple if only one repents) who perform the marital act (in other words, a Josephite marriage is not canonically required) -- thus it seems obvious that the Orthodox here do not hold a Latin legal view of the indissolubility of marriage. None other than St. Basil the Great, affirmed by canon 87 of the 6th, outlines the manner in which a marriage that is a second marriage for one or both parties can be engaged in by persons who are (eventually) able to take Holy Communion. In the Latin church, no person in a second marriage is allowed to take Communion ever again (as, if we play along with the normative sophistry, the annulment means that there was no first marriage to begin with), in the Orthodox Church following St. Basil and the 6th council, a remarried person who has undergone penance can come to the Cup while remarried. In the ninth century, the penances were relaxed somewhat, and 3rd marriages were allowed, the same canonical situation we have in Orthodoxy today though the practices of penance today “on the ground” are almost always more lax that what was required in the 9th century (on paper, anyway). St. Tamara of Georgia entered a second marriage.

Now, here is the clincher that will make all this moot for you. Canon 87 of the 6th is a canon from the Quinisext Council (692), also called the Council in Trullo, which ratified 102 canons of the 5th and 6th Councils. These canons are considered among the canons of the 5th and 6th by Orthodox, but Rome does not recognize all of them. You can find for yourself the reasons for this, and the politics involved. Remember that the Ecumenical Councils took place over years (usually), thus there could easily arise disagreements with regard to when a council ended. As well, for reasons of expediency, the canons of some local councils were declared at several Ecumenical Councils to be ecumenically binding, and later Councils routinely ratify canons of earlier Councils, an acknowledgement that the Church has received the Council as binding, and so forth. Everyone acknowledges this (pick up a copy of Tanner's Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, an RC work, there is a reason that the canons of those local Councils declared to be ecumenically binding are included in that work). Thus the question of which canons are ecumenical is not as simple as 7 sets of canons from 7 simple dates. For Orthodox, canon 87 of the 6th, via Trullo, was binding for about 300 years, and it informed later developments in the discipline. Several Fathers refer to St. Basil’s canon 4 simply affirming the normative practice in the East for many years prior to his time. Thus the issue when Ratzinger/BenXVI tells Orthodox that they can affirm all that they affirmed at 1000AD in order for reunion to occur.

Anonymous said...


Wht a pity that honet discussion is framed in such utter lack of respect for each other. If e can't agree on the Law of Love, and mutual respect for each other, in spite of our differences, is it small wonder that the world looks at us and scoffs because of our lack apparent authenticity? Could we kindly refrain from name calling and mean spiritedness?

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Thanks for that extremely detailed response. It saved me from writing a long post which would not have been as good or detailed.

If you wold like a decent online source for the canons of the first seven councils and some of the patristic material which from the period I would refer you to...

I think New Advent has a lot of material as well.

I do hope you have something to offer besides quoting a verse from scripture with no supporting material from the Fathers or Tradition. Sola Scriptura doesn't carry much weight in these quarters.

Under the mercy,

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Father bless

Hieromonk Gregory,
Thank you for your post. While frank discussion and debate is permitted I do try to keep tabs on things and I have guidelines (see the link in the sidebar) covering what is and is not kosher. I also posted a cautionary comment a ways back, but your post is well taken.

Again I would encourage all to please keep charity in mind when framing comments on what can be controversial topics of discussion.

Under the mercy,

Acolyte4236 said...


I don’t think the charge of caesaro-papism is really fair. First, the emperors didn’t always have a free reign in ecclesiastical matters And certainly not any more so than western Frankish monarchies ended up having. The Pope was the “special guest” of a number of them for prolonged periods of time or their personally bought cleric. You need to be fair and see history as the mess that it is. It is a double edged sword. Pope Vigilius an Justinian come to mind.

Matt19:9 Perhaps you missed the “Except for…” part of Jesus little talk there? According to Jesus, divorce is permissible in the case of fornication and hence so is remarriage. But hey, I just believe the Bible. I am kind of funny that way. Ask Owen, he’ll tell ya.

James Bellisario said...

Thanks for the detailed response on that, I appreciate it. I however still do not agree on this basic premise that there can be multiple remarriages. My whole argument obviously rests on, that there was indeed a valid marriage in the first place, of course. If we read Sacred Scripture we must have a proper exegesis of the passages the Church as whole has understood it. We must look for a consensus on the issue of the proper understanding of of marriage, both in Tradition and Sacred Scripture. Sure there are always abnormalities that have existed in such matters. But what does the Church teach as a general consensus throughout the ages? It teaches that once a man and a women are bound by the sacrament that it can't be dissolved. Lets look at the evidence closer.

The first place to look is at the proper exegesis of Matthew Chapter 19:9 by the Church Fathers. Let us look at this passage, “9 And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.” What does this passage tell us? Well if we read Romans 7:1 and Cor 7:10-11 we get a better picture. Don't fret I am not going to use Scripture Alone, but I will back up my exegesis with the Fathers. Let me continue. Romans 7:1 says, “1 Know you not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) that the law hath dominion over a man, as long as it liveth? 2 For the woman that hath an husband, whilst her husband liveth is bound to the law. But if her husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.” This passage clearly shows that Matthew 19 is not an exception clause as many try to make it. It is a condemnation of both questions proposed to Jesus. It falls in line with 1 Cor 7. “10 But to them that are married, not I but the Lord commandeth, that the wife depart not from her husband.11 And if she depart, that she remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband. And let not the husband put away his wife.” We must understand this putting away as not a dissolving of the marriage but only of the marriage bed. The two still cannot go out and get remarried to another party. This would be committing polygamy.

Saint Jerome, Bede and Augustine all agree with this exegesis. We can also see in tradition where this is understood because we have Pope Innocent I confirming it, The Councils of Milevi (can 17), Frejus (can 10) , Nantes (can 10), Florence and Trent all decree it. Now what about the express writings of the Fathers of the Church?

St. Justin Martyr (c. 160) : “According to our Teacher (Jesus), just as they are sinners who contract a second marriage, even though it is in accord with human law, so also are they sinners who look with lustful desires at a woman. He repudiates not only one who actually commits adultery, but even one who wishes to do so; for not only our actions are manifest to God, but even our thoughts.” (First Apology 15) (a)

St. Basil the Great: - Amphilochius 199 (a) “The man who has deserted his wife and goes to another is himself an adulterer because he makes her commit adultery; and the woman who live with him is an adulteress, because she has caused another woman’s husband to come over to her…The woman who lives with an adulterer is an adulteress the whole time. The woman who has been abandoned by her husband, ought, in my judgment, to remain as she is. The Lord said, ‘If any one leave his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, he causes her to commit adultery;’ thus, by calling her adulteress, He excludes her from intercourse with another man. For how can the man being guilty, as having caused adultery, and the woman, go without blame, when she is called an adulteress by the Lord for having intercourse with another man? A man who marries another man’s wife who has been taken away from him will be charged with adultery…

John Chrysostom, On Matthew 62:1 (A.D. 370)."'What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.' See a teacher's wisdom. I mean, that being asked, Is it lawful? He did not at once say, It is not lawful, lest they should be disturbed and put in disorder, but before the decision by His argument He rendered this manifest, showing that it is itself too the commandment of His Father, and that not in opposition to Moses did He enjoin these things, but in full agreement with him. But mark Him arguing strongly not from the creation only, but also from His command. For He said not, that He made one man and one woman only, but that He also gave this command that the one man should be joined to the one woman. But if it had been His will that he should put this one away, and bring in another, when He had made one man, He would have formed many Women. But now both by the manner of the creation, and by the manner of lawgiving, He showed that one man must dwell with one woman continually, and never break off from her."

I find it quite confusing that you consider the Catholic Church to be legalistic in its application of Tradition and Scripture regarding marriage and divorce. The Church is doing no more than putting forth what Jesus said, what his apostles said (Saint Paul for example) and what the Saints have said as a general consensus.

As for the Council of Elvira, you have to do some real stretching of text to get the meaning that you are implying from it. Lets look at the Canons shall we? It doesn't appear to me that your arguments are holding water. Neither the Council of Elvira, nor any of the First Seven Ecumenical Councils condone remarriage in the fashion that you are talking about. Elvira condemns remarriage and only gives an exception for female catechumens who want to be baptized, other wise they cant receive communion before the person dies. Why? Because they are still bound, that's why. It seems to me that the Orthodox position has fallen subject to the exceptions and not the general consensus of the Church as a whole. I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this one my friends.

Canons from Elvira.
8. Women who without acceptable cause leave their husbands and join another man may not receive communion even when death approaches.

9. A baptized woman who leaves an adulterous husband who has been baptized, for another man, may not marry him. If she does, she may not receive communion until her former husband dies, unless she is seriously ill.

10. If an unbaptized woman marries another man after being deserted by her husband who was a catechumen, she may still be baptized. This is also true for female catechumens. If a Christian woman marries a man in the knowledge that he deserted his former wife without cause, she may receive communion only at the time of her death.

11. If a female catechumen marries a man in the knowledge that he deserted his former wife without cause, she may not be baptized for five years unless she becomes seriously ill.

Ochlophobist said...

Mr. Bellisario,

Did you read my comment? Do you disagree with the content of it?

St. Basil in his canon 4, which is followed by canon 87 of the 6th Ecumenical Council (via Trullo), codifies the canonical process that a remarried person undergoes in order, as a remarried person in a conjugal married state, to be admitted to communion. No one disputes this. You can find many Eastern fathers who speak against the evil and sin of remarriage. The Orthodox Church recognizes clearly the evil and sin involved. It also admits persons who have been remarried to the Chalice following penance. St. Basil had his rules for this, the 6th followed him; these were modified as explained in the 9th century. No one disputes this. The discipline with regard to remarriage as outlined here was normative for the East. One might take time to consider Greek rhetoric regarding "moral" norms - a very strict form of rhetoric is employed, and then traditional forms of economia are generally followed. The economia for second marriages has been normative in the East since before St. Basil the Great. Economia has been normative for third marriages since the 9th century. [economia given repentance, tears, time and so forth.] As a RC, it is understandable that you would disagree with this on theological grounds. I understand why you would do so. There is no argument that you might provide which I, and most of my brethren reading this, have not read before. But the facts remain. Second, and later third marriages are the normative practice in the East, given the requisite penance. Remarried persons (including those who had been divorced) are allowed to receive Holy Communion following said penance. This has been normative since the times stated. No one disputes this. The Pope states that all that is required for "reunion" is that Orthodox affirm simply what they affirmed at 1000AD. At 1000AD they allowed remarried persons, who had not had their prior marriages stated to be non-marriages, to partake of the Holy Gifts after the appropriate penance. The Pope thinks that these Byzantine 2nd and 3rd marriages are not sacramental. Be that the case, then the Orthodox Church is giving blessing for non-married persons to have sex and to receive Communion (as I state above this line of thought is dubious). In either event Orthodox discipline is not compatible with RC discipline in this regard. But in typical contemporary RC fashion, unity is to be achieved at virtually all costs.

Anonymous said...

Good morning everyone...My good Orthodox and Heterodox brethren, The Truth is One, the Way is One, the Life is One as much as the Church is one and the Spirit is One which inspires her. Dear Heterodox Brethren read the Fathers and pray and pray, and see how much all your learning and logics are but a way to devilry. Dear Orthodox Brethren waste not the precious time allowed by God to you for repentance and prayer in vain disputations. The Truth is here and the saints witness it in their daily lives, and this is what we, too, poor sinners are called to. For the Truth is Love. Forgive me, the least,

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

How beautifully these comments demonstrate the aptness of this post's title!

Young fogey emeritus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Young fogey emeritus said...

Good thread.

The scope of the Pope - divinely instituted locus of the church's infallibility or man-made rank of the divinely instituted episcopate for the good order of the church? - is THE insurmountable division between these two Catholic churches.

Pope Benedict, God willing, could get everything he wants and undo the damage in the Roman Church over the past 40 years (on the ground today, yes, it's still a disaster), and that issue would remain.

(Worth noting: the Orthodox vision of a reunited Western Catholicism looks like what he's trying to do and not like 1970s RC practice.)

For reunion to happen one side would have to give in as the Ochlophobist has written.

There is the matter of the Western liberals who talk collegiality and communion like the Orthodox but really hate the Pope because he's Catholic; that is, he can't and won't change teaching to fit modern ideologies (gay marriage for example).

As the Orthodox haven't been pro-contraception as defined doctrine I think Rome gives them the benefit of the doubt. As has been said there are Orthodox who like Rome stand with the ancient faith on that (as all Christians did until 1930). Too many Orthodox sound like Anglicans did on this in the 1950s - still cautious and conservative but changed and wrong.

The Eastern theory on divorce and remarriage doesn't make sense to me but I understand why they did it - so the wronged party and children would survive (a merciful applying of economy) - and know historically it wasn't a bone of contention between the two sides.

Regarding 'validity', correct.

Anonymous said...

I am a husband and father who was abandoned by his spouse and was forced to defend his marriage, in the Catholic Church, for twelve years until the Roma Rota decided that it was valid.

The heretics in the Catholic Church, in my opinion most bishops and even a greater percentage of priests, view such a decision rather as the "inability to prove" nullity with moral certainty and this difference has consequences. They cite every such decision, which normally says, when translated into English from Latin, that nullity has not been proven and for the heretics, this demonstrates that the marriage was not valid, it was just that it was not able to be proven null.

My wife, for the nearing twenty years of her adultery, has been supported, openly by the priests in the parishes she and her partner in adultery have attended and all the local ordinaries in each of the four locations/dioceses. This renders the meaning of the presumption of validity void, with the sole exception of the lovers not being allowed to marry until my death, after which the "valid" marriage of these two will occur with as much haste as possible, to send me off and to retrojustify a couple of generations of adultery.

I am not impressed.

The following story is true but those of you here who are Orthodox will likely not believe it and it IS NOT said to belittle you. I will keep it short.

In the midst of my annulment ordeal, the actual case lingered for twelve years from libellus to third instance decision, I sought the advice of an Orthodox priest, who told me that he believed that my wife and her lover would ultimately seek out a Byzantine Catholic Parish and priest who might be "sympathetic". It was he who first told me of the Byzantine Rite in the Catholic Church and its relation to Orthodoxy. I found his advice facinating but at that time such had not happened. I wish I could remember the date of my conversation with this kind priest. He found it interesting that a Catholic would seek him out but when he heard my story he was not at all surprised and he was firm in his belief regarding his "prediction".

He was right on the money. My wife and her lover remain supported by a Byzantine Catholic priest, whom I have heard is very close to powerful Churchmen in Rome, who keep him beyond any discipline, even from his Bishop/Eparch or Metropolitan.

I spoke with one person, who had attended the same Church and who initially rejected my claims/theories, but when he investigated the information I gave him and thought about what he had experienced in that parish, he changed his tune and told me that what I believed about this priest, was consistent with his knowledge of him, although this man could not prove it. When he came to learn of the extent of the violation of our marriage that has occurred, he was very hurt, as he was a relatively new Catholic and could not believe what had happened, could happen, yet he knew, after speaking to me and seeing what information I shared with him, that indeed what had happened was a scandal and a grave, long-standing injustice that has been categorically denied being addressed by all in the Catholic Church who have been asked for help and similarly in Rome, with the sole exception of the two Rotal decisions that found no nullity.

I believe this man ceased attending that parish as a result, although he remains a Catholic.

After sixteen years of knocking at doors in the Catholic Church, I formally defected from the faith.

I can tell you that no one cares about marriage in the Catholic Church, who is in a position to actually do something about it and/or if they are, they are paralyzed, for reason(s)that I do not know or perhaps could not understand(although I find such hard to believe) and can or will do little more than talk about it.

They certainly will not act to discipline even proven adultery declared openly by their highest "normal" marriage tribunal. Not even when they have certain knowledge of involvement of priests, and perhaps bishops by tacit approval, in the conspiracy to invalidate a valid marriage, through manipulation of Canon Law, in order to justify adultery and to create and sanctify another "valid" marriage through the obliteration of a real, valid, sacramental marriage.

The nullity process and the pastroal practices of the Catholic Church are at odds with what it says in public. The Churchmen know this and they will do nothing, except talk, to deal with it. Collegiality is a cancer. It is not of the Holy Spirit. Not in the absolute, but when the large majority of bishops, at least in the U.S., if not the world, are morally compromised or paralyzed(for only God knows why), they are not "really" in union with the Papacy and, in my opinion, the Pope should, functionally ignore them even if it results in massive schisms. The defense of valid marriage supercedes false unity, in my opinion.

I think the Pope is fully aware of the consequences of the countless, invalid nullities granted in the United States over the previous Papacy and their effects upon the "pessimism" regarding marriage, that was most of the focus of the Papal address to the Rota on January 29, 2009, but he knows that his bishops do not support him, not even world wide I would guess and this prevents him from acting.

But this is all a guess on my part resulting from my experiences in the tribunal system.

Finally, I categorically reject the Orthodox practices regarding the "justification" of "extra" marriages and am insulted by them.

Both of these apostolic sister Churches are in serious error and scandalous in both of their approaches regarding marriage.

They both need to listen to those of us who are willing to remain faithful to our vows and they both need to jettison , even practices held from near apostolic times, but which are not of Christ and are of mere men, regardless of their holiness!

Grow up you Orthodox and grow up you Latins, you are both selfish children who are destroying marriage. The Bishops of both of these great sisters should repent in public before the entire world, and they should do it together and restore a single valid marriage with absolutely no, mercy humps!!!!!!!!!!

Which are all these THINGS really are.

False charitable, gravely immoral mercy humps.

I have said none of this to insult either your Orthodox brothers or you Latin brothers. I have said this because I am living it and because I have seen numerous marriages be destroyed "pastorally" and BOTH OF THESE CHURCH PRACTICES RESULT IN THE SAME, WHORING OF MARRIAGE.

These practices must cease or Christianity will, indeed, be a remnant. Not due to THEOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES, but due to the inability to keep one's mind out of someone else's pants as well as their own!

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Thanks for your post. I am very sorry to hear of your situation and I empathize with your pain. Also I salute you for the heroic virtue of resisting the temptation to remarriage which (believe it or not) Orthodoxy discourages even among widows. It is worth noting though that the Church (whether Roman or Orthodox) is not a social club for saints. Rather it is a place for souls of those struggling daily with sin. And yes that includes clergy and even hierarchs. We Orthodox could write volumes on that unhappy subject.

With respect to your criticisms, all I can say is that the practice of the Orthodox Church (imperfect as it is) is the historic discipline of the ancient Church affirmed by the Fathers, Tradition and Church canons. I refer you to the excellent posts by Owen the Ochlophobist above.

Finally your battle cry of no mercy sounds like it is one of pain born of deep anger. Mercy is one of the pillars of the Christian Faith. It is frankly what we are about. Because when it comes right down to it, without mercy we are all damned. The idea of belonging to a church without mercy does not appeal to me. And it does not comport with my understanding of the Christian Faith.

I don't want to pry into your personal life, but have you made peace with your ex wife? That's a very personal question and I don't expect a public answer on this forum. It is asked rhetorically because in the Orthodox tradition one may not commune the Holy Mysteries if there is anyone you are not at peace with through any fault of your own. I think in theory that rule used to apply to the Roman Church as well though I may be mistaken.

You indicated in your post that you have abjured Rome while also rejecting Orthodoxy. Where may I ask have you gone?

Under the mercy,

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Ohhh one more thing also to Anonymous...

I want to ask you to please exercise some restraint when expressing yourself here. Strongly held opinions can be expressed without recourse to coarse or offensive language. And I have to be honest some parts of your comment kinda pushed the envelope on that.

Thanking you in advance...


Anonymous said...

Dear John,

My opinions regarding the deep errors of both the Orthodox and Latin Church are not likely to change regarding marriage, divorce, remarriage....

I did not intend to insult with my post, so I am sorry if it was beyond the pale.

As to forgiveness it is a daily endeavor of mine, which will likely only be realized with either reconciliation or in the presence of Christ Himself.

You may mistake what mercy means. Typically mercy is thought of as giving a spoiled child what they want to shut them up and to make them part of things. It is stated in other ways to make it sound "pastoral" but it boils down to allowing wrong to be made right through, false charity.

It is clearly a very, very, very, evil practice and at the heart of fundamental injustice that is the opposite of mercy. Both Churches terribly abuse what they, wrongly, intentionally and knowingly, call mercy.

I will give you an example of what I view as mercy.

Many summers ago when my wife allowed my to have our children for a chunk of their vacation I took two of them on a trip down a slow river in large tubes. They were both in their teens(early) and better swimmers than I and in better shape but I "mother hen'd" them.

We came upon, across the small river, perhaps 100 feet wide, a father and two of his children, both looking to be no more than nine or ten. They were in a canoe. The father stood up and over it went spilling its contents, including two children without life jackets on.

Immediately I told my children to sit tight and only follow carefully, as I knew they could easily swim to the shore, the current was weak and quite slow, and I paddled, reasonably quickly, in the tube to where the children were drifting, as their father was trying to save the other contents and right the canoe. I was winded when I arrived and both children were tiring but still afloat, although they had drifted more than twenty yards away from their father and they were reddish from the exertion. I reached the girl, a little younger than her brother, first and she readily took my hand and then wrapped her arms around the tube to rest and float with its aid. The brother, typical male, was quite spent but did not want to join us even though he was in trouble and knew it. I asked him more intently to take my hand which he refused, then came the mercy part.

I told him that I would leave my tube and get him, against his will if necessary and that I would do whatever I had to do to save him, INCLUDING KNOCKING HIM OUT IF IT WAS MY ONLY CHOICE. Wisely, he acquiesced, and I pulled him to the tube just as a Park Ranger raced in his canoe to help and to secure the children. The Ranger took the children and thanked me. He had heard what transpired and told me he would have done the same.

That is mercy in my view.

Yes, I think every unjust divorce should result in excommunication from the body of Christ. I think that is merciful, provided it is not done in anger and is done to bring about reconciliation.

I do not dispute the necessity of mercy for one who claims to follow Christ. I view what both Churches do as malignant false charity. I understand how these approaches seem merciful, but I am convinced they are not. Personally I could care less what saintly churchman or men supported either or both of these approaches. They are just wrong, even if I cannot explain it sufficiently. Each damages marriage, damages the children involved and encourages unending violations of the particular marriage and all marriages. No explanation will ever change my mind, unless Christ Himself required one, the other or both and He told me it personally.

There is only mercy when an agreement, freely made, is upheld, not compromised. The free will of either party is preserved, as free, if they face excommunication. It is their choice to make. The guilty party or parties need to face this upfront and clearly, without compromise. They should be told the door is there for their return but it must be opened through repentance and restitution, as possible.

There can be no peace with my wife, she IS NOT MY EX-WIFE, PLEASE, although on numerous occasions I have appealed to her to accept what the Church has ruled. Only repentance, restitution and reconciliation could bring peace. I can and will not lock the door; she has bricked up the outside and Rome holds the still wet trowel for her. They are the same adulterer, in my mind.

Outside of personal integrity, to examine ones actions, honestly, there is no incentive for her to change her behavior. Since the Catholic Church refuses to act, I have acted to separate myself from her(the Catholic Church).

I am Catholic, the Church is in error in its judgment to not excommunciate her and her lover. It chooses to ignore the never-ending assault on our vows and by doing so, chooses to cooperate, with grave evil and encourages great evil. The Catholic Church greatly offends almighty God by its false charity, disguised as mercy, I believe.

I have asked my local bishop for his permission to be buried, when I die, in my family plot in our local Catholic cemetery. The only answer I received when I further pressed the issue was to be told that the Bishop received my request. His permission is necessary since I am formally defected from the faith and cannot be buried in consecrated ground, licitly, without the permission of the local bishop.

This, I think, is Roman justice, after all I have to die someday!

As a Catholic I was taught to have the utmost respect for the Orthodox but to be mindful of our separation. I am by no means a theologian who understands our differences. It may seem simple and condescending(although to me it is just the opposite)to you but when I am in the presence of an Orthodox priest, to me, he is the same as a Catholic priest, just a brother who has some strong disagreements. He is still FAMILY and a brother, not a stranger.

So, I no longer attend the liturgy, anywhere. I suffer at Mass. I do not want to be there and my mind is never at peace during any liturgy.

I do, however, find peace sitting quietly in Church outside of Mass. On a rare occasion I will go to the Church of my youth and sit before or near the Tabernacle. For quite a few years, I would on occasion drive to the Church(and the one that replaced it and was built on the site) where we were married and simply sit and pray, sometimes in tears, but I stopped, eventually, as the coldness of the Church wore at me.

It is odd but like my wife, the Catholic Church has become a stranger to me and they both have abandoned me and Christ, in my opinion. I must remain faithful to both although both are unrepentant adulterers, together. God will have to sort this out.

I pray for the strength to not yield, but to wait for both of my loves to seek forgiveness and heal the wounds they continue to inflict. But, I cannot stay or return to an adulterer who continues to violate their promises, so I will remain apart.

I have been down this discussion road, many times, regarding what mercy means and I will not yield to what is "empty" mercy, in my estimation. If it turns out that I am wrong, then I hope in His mercy. I have little hope, however, in mercy from the Catholic Church. To not even respond to a simple request for permission to be buried, when the Church knows well its intimate involvement and encouragement of the destruction of our marriage from the beginning, shows NO MERCY AT ALL.

This example of mercy, is exactly the mercy I do not believe in. It is not mercy at all, nor is it charity of any, non-evil variety.

It is like allowing that boy to drown without reaching for his hand or going into the water to save him.


Anonymous said...

By the way John.

Thank you for putting up with me.

Ochlophobist said...


I have been reading Orthodox and Catholic and other Christian blogs for some years now, and I can recall you writing your story, and the response it got from triumphant members of your former Church, on a number of different blogs I read.

I find your story heartbreaking. I wish you every peace of Christ this Lent, and pray that you find some sort of resolution and solace.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

I fear there are few words I can offer you of comfort. In Orthodoxy it is sometimes said that the Church is a spiritual hospital, and monasteries are its intensive care ward. I don't know if your personal circumstances would permit it. But if they do and you are not completely averse I would suggest spending some time in a monastery. If you have any choice I would suggest one that is fairly traditional. There are, believe it or not, still some Catholic monastic communities which are quite good and orthodox.

I will light a candle for you in church on Sunday.

Under the mercy,

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much.

Anonymous said...


I wish you peace.

Concerning the Eastern Rite priest of whom you spoke, I am sorry to hear about that, too. I know many fine folks in the Eastern Rite / Uniate churches, both people who grew up in them and Latins who were able to change jurisdiction because the post-Vatican II direction of Roman rite American parishes horrified them. I think that such people are the great majority of Eastern Rite clergy and laity.

However, a few folks "switch tracks" for sordid reasons, seeing the Eastern Rite as an escape from former disciplines. We Orthodox often cannot discuss the Eastern Rite without hard feelings, but in reality, they are mostly pious good folks -- in my experience, anyways.

Anonymous said...

Dear Joseph,

Thank you for your wish for me. My only hope is in Christ.

In my own experience I have felt lost for years in the Latin Church but much of that is likely my own errors. Still, it is a mess and very divided, which contributed to our situation in its own way as we tried to remain faithful on our journey. For me it is very, very sad.

As a young couple my wife and I hoped our son would consider becoming a priest and some of our daughters nuns. Now I am glad that none of this happened. I do not want our children to be part of this sewage. Even lost, they do less damage to others, than "faithful" priests and nuns do in the current state of affairs.

My wife could care less and I have learned that faithfulness has meaning only in theory, at least until I meet God, in person, or He chooses to make it clear to me that my fidelity has not been in vain. Based upon the witness to me of the Catholic Church, all the way up to the Pope, our vows were mere folly.

At times I think I should have crossed my fingers behind my back on our wedding day and merely simulated my promises. But then, that would have never crossed my mind. I was naive enough to mean what I promised and believe that my wife did as well, but most in error was my trust, that the Catholic Church did as well and would help us on our walk.

Dumb Polak, after all.