Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The National Catholic Register on the manner of receiving Orthodox converts to Catholicism

WASHINGTON — With every Lent, Catholic parishes enter into the final stretch of preparing people for full initiation into the Catholic Church at the Easter vigil.

But parishes that have Orthodox preparing to become Catholic through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults need to make sure they do not end up invalidly re-baptizing and re-confirming fully initiated Christians, who only need to make a profession of the faith in order to become part of the Catholic communion.

“When they’re in RCIA, it’s problematic,” said Paulist Father Ron Roberson, associate director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Father Roberson explained that the Catholic Church recognizes the validity of the sacraments of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Assyrian Church of the East Christians. These Churches all confer the sacraments of initiation — baptism, chrismation (or confirmation) and first Eucharist — at the same time, even at infancy. Unlike Protestant Christians, Orthodox and Assyrian Church Christians are fully initiated and profess the same Creed as Catholics. Father Roberson said it would be “extremely inappropriate” for a Catholic parish to attempt to re-baptize or re-confirm them.

“They really don’t need to go through RCIA at all,” he said. However, he said Orthodox coming into communion with the Catholic Church might find RCIA beneficial as a vehicle for Catholic catechesis, depending on their level of education in the Catholic faith.

Father Roberson said the ecumenical dialogues between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Assyrian Church have made substantial progress in coming to doctrinal agreement, but the “lynchpin of disagreements” is still the role and exercise of papal primacy.

Katherine Hayes, a member of St. Barbara’s Melkite Catholic mission in Houston, told the Register that she came into communion with the Catholic Church in 2003, her senior year of high school. Hayes came from the Antiochian Orthodox Church and transferred into the corresponding Melkite Greek Catholic Church, after a Latin Rite Catholic priest and canon lawyer informed her about the Eastern Catholic Churches, which are co-equal to the Latin Church and united by communion with the Pope. He showed Hayes that she could maintain her faithfulness to the Orthodox tradition and teaching “in communion with Rome and still have the Divine Liturgy.”

Because there was no Melkite Greek Catholic Church at the time in her area, Hayes said her formal reception into the Catholic Church took place at the local Latin Rite parish. Because she was already a fully initiated Christian (having received a valid baptism, chrismation and Eucharist as an infant) Hayes did not need to go through RCIA. Hayes came into Catholic communion on Holy Thursday 2003 by making a profession of the Catholic faith through reciting the Creed.

Read the rest here.

No incendiary comments please. We have our own guidelines for receiving Catholics into the Church.


Deacon Nicholas said...

Eastern Rite Catholics who insist they are "Orthodox in communion with Rome" don't seem to realize that the problem with communion with Rome is that it is COMMUNION with Rome.

bob said...

Nothing particularly inflammatory here. Teeth gnashing held in reserve.

Stephen said...

How do they convince themselves that we "say the same Creed" or "believe the same thing", given the whole filioque issue? It's not even mentioned. That's what is most troubling. Either words have meaning that is mutually understood and accepted (enabling commonly held belief), or they don't (in which case, how can communion be possible?)

I know a reply might be along the lines of "you can profess the Creed either with or without the filioque, and it's ok", but that is JUST from the RC POV. No Orthodox I know of says this. And the RCs and converts from Orthodoxy to the RC Church must be aware of it. I guess they just choose to minimize the Orthodox beef regarding the filioque.

Joey said...

Our Latin Rite church has received a couple of families from the Antiochian church. They were received on Divine Mercy Sunday so as to separate them from true catechumens who are received only at the Easter Vigil. They were all former Protestants. Turns out their Orthodox priest was also a former Protestant and now is a Catholic priest with his own Latin Rite parish and a small Byzantine mission.