Part of the Solution or…

Several years ago the website ROCOR Studies published a lengthy interview with Fr. Robert Taft, S.J. entitled, “Are You Part of the Problem, or Part of the Solution?” In it, Taft discussed the history of his relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) and Russian Orthodoxy in general, including his efforts to bridge the divides between Catholicism and Orthodoxy. With the Pan-Orthodox Council just over the horizon, some might wonder whether it will be “part of the problem” or “part of the solution” when it comes to Catholic/Orthodox relations. Sadly, it seems that the hierarchs of ROCOR wish it to become the former rather than the latter.

For those curious, the ROCOR synod’s eight-page epistle on the upcoming council can be found online here. It’s pretty much what you’d expect from a conservative synod still enchanted by a somewhat romantic view of Orthodox history and a hyper-exclusivist ecclesiology which has less to do with “Holy Tradition” and far more to do with ethnic and national chauvinism. This is not to say the entire critical commentary is bad. For instance, the synod’s commentary on the conciliar document “The Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World” rightly denounces the use of the term “human person” for “man” in the document, arguing that this terminological switcheroo is predicated upon both a flawed anthropology and theology. In the end, however, ROCOR wishes to keep alive the dominant ecclesiology of the Russian Orthodox Church, one which sets it as the pinnacle of not just world Orthodoxy, but Christianity as a whole.

15 comments

  1. Actually, since I’m a dirty little Uniate (but only WE get to call ourselves that!), since I’m neither a part of the solution, nor the problem, I must be a part of the precipitate. Cheers!

  2. And then we have to ask the same sort of question for issues within the church and unfortunately a lot of those people are like “Problem forever, heretics!”

  3. “It’s pretty much what you’d expect from a conservative synod still enchanted by a somewhat romantic view of Orthodox history and a hyper-exclusivist ecclesiology which has less to do with “Holy Tradition” and far more to do with ethnic and national chauvinism.”

    This cavalier dismissal of conservative Orthodox arguments and criticisms is getting tiresome — and predictable. Probably it is too “strict” however ROCOR’s reaction is noteworthy for seeking the kind of clarity that both Constantinople and the Vatican have studiously avoided for decades.

    “In the end, however, ROCOR wishes to keep alive the dominant ecclesiology of the Russian Orthodox Church, one which sets it as the pinnacle of not just world Orthodoxy, but Christianity as a whole”

    If the Russians see themselves as preserving Eastern Orthodoxy in its optimal form, and if they believe that Eastern Orthodoxy is the true Church, then there really isn’t anything else that they can do.

    I think your rant boils down to, “waaaah, the Russians won’t let the Phanar and the Vatican roll over them, why don’t they just roll over and die, waaaaah!!!”

    1. It’s been pretty well-established by now that that Moscow’s current ecclesiology is neither traditional nor authentically Orthodox. I’m just disappointed that ROCOR is intent on parroting it, though I shouldn’t be all that surprised.

      1. “It’s been pretty well-established by now that that Moscow’s current ecclesiology is neither traditional nor authentically Orthodox.”

        On whose say-so? Catholic scholars angry that Russia just won’t give up its ecclesiastical independence? Greek Orthodox scholars who would love nothing better than for Moscow to bow to Bartholomew’s every fancy?

        “I’m just disappointed that ROCOR is intent on parroting it, though I shouldn’t be all that surprised.”

        They are under the Moscow Patriarchate — what do you expect? That they’ll take their cue from the Phanar with its Canon 28 pretensions and the Vatican with its ever more positivist view of papal primacy?

        Be more realistic, sir.

        1. “It’s pretty much what you’d expect from a conservative synod still enchanted by a somewhat romantic view of Orthodox history and a hyper-exclusivist ecclesiology which has less to do with “Holy Tradition” and far more to do with ethnic and national chauvinism.”

          My Gabriel, the wannabeeskies are out in form over your extremely well stated truth. Late 19th century holy Russia is more than a bit tiresome when it parades itself as the one and only true faith.

        2. “Who says? People who have done research? Who are trained in history and theology? HOW DARE THEY!”

          Yep…

          1. By which you mean, of course, that those stubborn Russians must not be trained in history and theology. Otherwise they should already be Greek Catholics.

            Your praise for Russian piety combined with this constant belittling of Russian intelligence is absolutely schizophrenic. Besides you haven’t answered my question. What do you propose the Russians should do? Give up without a fight? Adopt Phanariot ecclesiology wholesale? Roll over and give in to Rome?

            I happen to think that you have not really read the ROCOR commentary. I see nothing in there about Russian “superiority” and heavily relies on the thought of Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos of the CHURCH OF GREECE.

      2. I hate picking sides between two very problematic expressions of Orthodoxy, but I would say the EP’s interpretation of Chalcedon canon 28 takes far more liberties with history and tradition than anything Moscow has said.

  4. Joseph, I think that you miss the point. The Russians are not really too interested in theology or even their vaunted purity of faith, they are ethnic chauvinists, which is Gabriel’s point. Their liturgical practices and attitudes are simply a continuation of 19th century pan-slavism, which is fundamentally that race and ethnicity trump everything else. Here is an example showing that the interests of the Moscow Patriarchate are far more ethnic than religious. It is from an interview with Baatootksy Stephen Hadley, who lives in France and is an excellent example of the Konvertzi mentality encouraged by to so-called Orthodoxy of Russia, notice the whole issue is a bunch of konvertzi preserving Russian heritage not Orthodoxy:

    “Q. Do you still feel attached to the Russian tradition, to the Korsun eparchia?

    A. Even though we have very few Russians in our parish, I still feel we are attached to the tradition. The people at our parish are by no means Russian in terms of heritage and roots or deep knowledge of Russian culture and history. Yet they know some things about it and, moreover, hold respect for the traditions. Our Liturgical language is French (we have a full set of Menaia, Triod, and Oktoikh). However, our second priest is Russian and we also have an English nun. So you see we are quite diverse. Also, our parishioners live and work far away, but they come to pray together not only on Saturdays and Sundays. We serve Liturgy every day.” (http://www.pravmir.com/article_224.html)

    1. “…notice the whole issue is a bunch of konvertzi preserving Russian heritage not Orthodoxy”

      Which must be why they have French as a liturgical language and the parishioners have “no … knowledge of Russian culture and history” and serve the Liturgy every day. Yep, that’s got nothing to do with Orthodoxy.

      1. Simply having holy mother russia in French does not make it French by any means. Culture and heritage is far more than simply language. The ROCOR and the OCA have been quite successful in translating the whole corpus of the tradition of Russia into English, that does make it either American or in the case of ROCOR in Great Britain, English. A translation is still simply a translation.

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