Theologizing as an Eastern Catholic


My previous post, “Some Brief Words on the ‘Orthodox in Communion with Rome’ Phenomenon,” along with a recent unedifying discussion with certain extremists from that camp, prompted me to revisit Fr. Andriy Chirovsky’s provocative 2014 talk, “Theologizing as an Eastern Catholic After Orientalium Ecclesiarum,” which was delivered at a conference marking the 50th anniversary of that document.

I don’t want to attempt summarizing the talk; I doubt I would do it full justice. However, let me say that Chirovsky represents a balanced understanding of what it means to be an Orthodox in communion with Rome, even if he does not use that particular expression here. That is to say, he understands that it is both necessary and proper to be both fully Orthodox, and fully Catholic while recognizing the historic difficulty of this position from the time of the Union of Brest onward. Moreover, Fr. Andriy puts on the table the reality that unlike the Orthodox, Eastern Catholics cannot simply dismiss Roman doctrines (or the formulation of those doctrines) as wrongheaded but must instead endeavor to understand them in a complementary fashion that remains true to the Christian East’s theological patrimony.

Some will, of course, harbor reasonable disagreements with some of Chirovsky’s observations, though even he admits that the talk is an exploration rather than a final declaration. He embraces, without apology, the need for Eastern Catholics, specifically Ukrainian Greek Catholics, to confront Roman teachings with an authentically Byzantine understanding, even at the risk of conflict with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Fr. Andriy asserts this not in the interest of stirring up needless controversy or rejecting settled dogma, but as part of the Ukrainian Church’s larger witness to the importance of unity with Rome without falling prey to a subservient mentality.