Wednesday, March 25, 2009


... just wondering; if the Catholic Church recognizes all the sacraments of the Orthodox Church than why can't attending Orthodox Divine Liturgy fulfill Sunday Obligation?


Thom Curnutte said...

Because Orthodox sacraments are valid, but illicit. (Similar to the SSPX situation.. similar, not exactly the same.)

John (Ad Orientem) said...

You don't fulfill your obligation because we are not part of the same church. Rome considers us to be schismatics, and we don't recognize many of the doctrinal innovations of the Western Church. We don't even recite the same creed. For which reason we don't commune Roman Catholics. How can you fulfill your Sunday obligation in a church where you can't take communion or any of the other sacramnets?

Owen said...

John, is that not the Nicene Creed? Catholics do recite the Nicene Creed. Not looking for a take down. Just asking. Thanks.

Jane said...

John, that stuff about the creed is hooey. Catholic and Orthodox hierarchs have said that there are no theological differences in the creed. Furthermore, there are some Orthodox who will commune Catholics, and some Catholics who will commune Orthodox, especially in areas where there are not ministers for both Churches. For instance, a friend who is Orthodox received permission from his bishop to fulfill his obligation at a Catholic church while he studied in Spain, because there were no Orthodox churches in the area.

I believe the real issue at this point is that there is a decided preference in favor of fulfilling the Sunday Obligation in your own Church: Catholics to Catholic, Greek Orthodox to Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox to Russian Orthodox, and so on. Whether or not this is right in the eyes of God is questionable, but both Catholic and Orthodox faithful should defer to the judgments of their hierarchs.

The short answer to your question: because the pope said so.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Roman Catholics recite the Creed of the Council Lyon which contains a phrase that the Nicene Creed does not.

There are Roman Catholics who commune in Methodists Churches. That something is done does not make it right. There are certainly instances where Catholics have been communed in Orthodox Churches. But the practice is prohibited by church canons. Similarly it is prohibited for an Orthodox Christian to commune in a non-Orthodox Church.

Communion is not a feel good sacrament. It represents full agreement on all essentials of the faith. That unity does not presently exist between our respective churches and is IMO unlikely to be achieved given how far apart we have drifted.

I do not know the source for your anecdotal report of an Orthodox bishop blessing one of his spiritual children to commune in a Roman Catholic Church. But assuming your source to be accurate such an event is quite scandalous and completely contrary to the canons of the Church. The Roman Catholic Church also prohibits communication in sacris with those not in full communion and doctrinal agreement with Rome. for the same reasons.

With respect to your claim that there are no doctrinal differences between us in the matter of the creed I would encourage you to do a bit more research on the subject. The overwhelming majority of the world's Orthodox hierarchs consider the filioque to be heretical. And it has been formally condemned and anathematized by numerous synods. There is not a single Orthodox saint who has ever spoken of the Latin Creed without referring to it has heresy. I refer you to the Synodikon of Orthodoxy and the writings of St. Mark of Ephesus.

This is not intended as a slam on Rome, but rather as an honest acknowledgment of some of the very real differences that divide us. Ignoring those differences won't make them go away. The Council of Florence should provide ample evidence to that effect.

Under the mercy,

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Well, the Filioque matter in my opinion is pretty straight forward, The Father sent the Son, the Son sent the Holy Spirit ergo, you get the picture.

The Filioque was to combat the Arian Heresy.

The Greek Roman Catholics do NOT have the Filioque in their Credo as it's considered ananmetha to change the Creed from the Original Greek.

I think the whole situation has a little bit of pride on both sides. The East got mad since the Western Bishops' didn't consult them on the Filioque clause...

But I'll save my comments for another day.

Tara said...

Bottom line: Authority--they don't have authority.

If God has given the gift of infallibility to his Church, there must be some identifiable authority of agent within her capable of exercising that gift.

Of course Catholics believe the successors of the Apostles--with the Pope as the head is that authority.

Orthodox, in the beginning, claimed their authority was in ecumenical councils--but only the first seven councils that took place before the rupture between East and West. Meaning when they were still under the authority of a Pope.

Orthodox acknowledge that any truly ecumenical council will need to include themselves and the bishops of Rome in order to be valid. In 1204, in an attempt to heal the two opposing sides, both sides fully accepted the decrees promulgated by the new council, “that professed the true, divinely ordained jurisdiction of the successors of Peter over the universal Church of Christ.”

But when taken back to Constantinople the citizens--the politics and public opinion--refused Papal authority over themselves. And because the decision was made at an ecumenical council--they now choose to not follow the decisions of this ecumenical council--they no longer claimed their authority was in ecumenical councils. So now where’s their authority?

They refuted the full primacy and authority of the truth that Christ planted upon His Rock--Peter and the Apostles. And now the Orthodox are telling us “To discover what is true Christian doctrine, you must pay heed the teaching of those who adhere to true Christian doctrine.”

Jesus says, whoever listens to the truth follows me. At the time of the Apostles there was no Patriarch, but there was our first Pope--Peter. Breaking away from the true authority of the Pope--even if their church looks all green and flowing with beautiful flowers--they risk falling into deep error, they need to re-attach themselves to the deep roots of the Church that Jesus Himself planted.

Owen said...

John, I'd have to see the two variations side by side. All I know is that in the Catholic Church the Nicene Creed is said.

All, as Catholic convert from protestantism I would not receive communion in any protestant sect. I once was a minister and clearly taught that it was all symbol only. I could not commune with that.

As to the Crescat's original question I declare my ignorance.

Carolina Cannonball said...

john- it is the same creed as eastern catholics.

Carolina Cannonball said...

in fact it's the same liturgy. I'd even venture so far as to say the same theology. Remember I am not referring to Romans here. I should have been more clear, I apologize.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Eastern Rite Catholics do not recite the Creed of Lyons. However they are bound to accept the filioque which was dogmatized by Lyons along with all of the other doctrinal innovations of the Latin Church. The fact that they are not required to recite the creed of Lyons has nothing to do with any doctrinal difference with Rome. If the Pope ordered them to recite it, they would have to. (Indeed at one they were required to do so.) Doctrinally they are Roman Catholics in Byzantine vestments. Even most Catholics acknowledge they have long since lost any Orthodox Sensus Fidei or Ortho-Praxis.

Under the mercy,

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Of course we have authority. Our authority lies in the OEcumenical Councils (9 not 7, and no we don't need the Pope to have one), the consensus patri, Holy Tradition, Scripture, the liturgy and the canons of the Church. None of which support the ultramontanist pretensions of the Patriarch of Rome. If anything a much stronger argument could be made that we need an Orthodox Emperor to hold a true OEcumenical Council since the nine councils were convened by Imperial decree. However most Orthodox theologians seem to concur that such is not required and the Ecumenical Patriarch as the last remaining office of the Imperial Court has authority under the ancient canons to convene a council if such is deemed necessary.

In fact plans are now underway for a Great Synod of the Orthodox Church to be held in the very near future. It remains to be seen if this Great Synod will evolve into the tenth OEcumenical Council. More than a few think it might as there are weighty issues on the agenda.

Under the mercy,

Angela M. said...

John, when you refer to Sunday obligation do you mean receiving Holy Communion?

It's my understanding that one's Sunday obligation is to assist at Mass - not necessarily receiving Holy Communion (however Holy Communion MUST be received at least once a year during the Easter season). That would be in the Roman Rite.

So Kat could be fulfilling her obligation most Sundays of the year...Kat - your thoughts?

gsk said...

Actually, if you cannot make it to a Catholic church, you can fulfill your obligation by going to an Orthodox liturgy. You just cannot receive Holy Communion (although the sacrament is valid). It's a question of unity. We cannot share a common table, which is an expression of communion until that union is actually accomplished.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

No. I was not referring to communion as the Sunday obligation. I was questioning how one could fulfill a Sunday obligation by attending the liturgy of a schismatic church where you are barred by both the rules of your own church and those of the schismatic one from communing. That said GSK is correct. Rome considers it acceptable to attend Orthodox liturgy sans communion if there is no Roman or Uniate parish available.

Under the mercy,

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Most Roman Catholic parishes and missals (modern and pre-Vatican II) label the creed you recite as the Nicene Creed. But it is not. The Creed approved by the OEcumenical Councils of Nicea and Constantinople do not contain the phrase "and from the son" (or "FILIOQUE" in Latin). This phrase was unilaterally added by the Western Church centuries after the Great Councils, without the consent of the universal Church and in direct contravention of canons forbidding any changes to the Creed under pain of anathema. As you might imagine this phrase carries a great deal of theological weight. It undermines the monarchy of the Father and is irreconcilable with the Patristic understanding of the God Head.

In fairness there has been a great deal of back peddling by Rome in recent years in an effort to make the Filioque "Orthodox." The basic argument now goes something like this... The phrase was really meant to mean that the Holy Spirit proceeds through the Son and not from the Son. Of course the problem is that it is not what it means in its literal reading in either Latin or English. Lex Orandi Lex Credendi

Under the mercy,

canon1753 said...

One could go to an Orthodox Divine Liturgy and fulfill the Sunday obligation if you cannot go to a Catholic Liturgy. You could even receive communion. (Whether or not you would be able to go to communion is another story, plus there is the issue of tact, do you come to a guest's house and make demands, such as making a physical not spiritual communion). See CIC canon 844 on intercommunion and intraChurch sacraments.

steve vickers-buckley said...


I was wondering when you were going to throw out that word.

My Catholic brethren, engaging an Orthodox convert is an exercise in futility because they know everything and aren't afraid to tell you so.

Just as you wouldn't spend a Sunday morning in a Baptist church, likewise do not spend your Sunday in an Orthodox church.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Just as you wouldn't spend a Sunday morning in a Baptist church, likewise do not spend your Sunday in an Orthodox church.

If you are Roman Catholic, that's a pretty hard line to argue with.

Under the mercy,

suaso said...

Easy. The Roman Catholic Church says to fulfill you Sunday obligation in a Catholic church united with Rome. That excludes all other churches which are not in union with the Roman church.

The only exception is an unlikely scenaria such as if you have been kidnapped and suddenly find yourself in the middle of a strange land and the only Christian church around is, say, and Orthodox one. Then the Roman Catholic Church says you may fulfill your obligation there. If you are in dire need of the according to Roman Catholic Law. This does not mean the Orthodox have to allow it, and they may not, and it is within their right not to, being a seperate entity from the Roman Catholic Church.

Adam said...

The 1993 Ecumenical Directory does permit one to attend an Orthodox Church if no other Catholic (Latin or Eastern) option is available. That directory further permits Catholics to receive the Eucharist in the Orthodox Church provided Catholics observe the Orthodox rules on this, which rules usually do not permit Catholics to receive--but in some places they ARE permitted to receive, and at certain points in history (eg., during the Soviet period) Catholics regularly received. Finally, the idea that Orthodox sacraments are valid but illicit is demonstrable nonsense spoken by someone who has no knowledge of canon law. That language pertains only to Catholic canon law and has nothing to do with the Orthodox Churches.

Thom Curnutte said...

Valid= It is actually a Eucharist.

Illicit= It is illicit for a Roman Catholic to receive it.


"valid but illicit"

But you're right, I'm no canon lawyer. It's good, however, that we have one in the house.