Saturday, September 04, 2004

Catholics becoming more Orthodox


I made a comment on Amy Welborn's blog that one of the benefits of the healing of the schism between East and West which I hope to happen in 2054 is that, not only will the Orthodox become Catholic, but the Catholic will become more Orthodox. This immediately got a snarky counter-comment "That's impossible. Catholicism is the definition of orthodoxy. Whatever is not is not Catholicism is not orthodox." [sic] So I thought I would explain a little bit of what I mean, some things about Orthodoxy that Catholics should adopt:

1) The reverence for the Liturgy as a theological source, as the Word of God, not as a toy to be played with.

2) The musical tradition as another theological source, with the ancient and tested having pride of place over the new and trite.

3) Most importantly, Catholics should adopt more of the Orthodox notion of the role of bishop. I see a real problem that arises from the top-down administrative understanding of papal authority. What happens is that the local Catholic bishop figures "If the pope doesn't stop what I'm doing, or what Fr. Flakey is doing, then it can't be that bad." People tend to think that papal infallibility implies that the pope is the real bishop of each diocese, and the bishop is just a caretaker. That's not the way things really are. The bishop is just as much a successor of Peter and the apostles as the pope is, and has just as much responsibility to shepherd his flock. That's why a Mass with the bishop present is called a "pontifical liturgy." Catholics could become beneficially more Orthodox if our bishops got off their duffs and did their stinking jobs.

Ok. I bet this post gets some nasty comments!

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