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Crossing the Tiber (to or from Rome)


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#1 Evan Herberth

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Posted 16 July 2011 - 09:27 PM

Dear All,

I have a simple question that I've posed to Catholics on another forum, and would like to also pose here. I'm trying to amass some practical knowledge that's hard to come by, IMHO.

1. If an Orthodox person begins attending and receiving communion in a Catholic Church, I understand that the person is probably de facto (and perhaps officially) excommunicated from the Orthodox Church. In relation to this, I've been made to understand that when I commit a mortal sin, I'm excommunicated from Orthodoxy, de facto, until I am loosed of that sin and re-connected to the body through reconciliation/confession/absolution. Is the nature of this excommunication different in substance than the "excommunication" of joining Roman Catholicism?

2. This is more of a curiosity than something that would be useful to me. If a Roman Catholic desires to join the Orthodox Church, how does the Catholic go about doing that? I've been made to understand that the opposite journey merely requires a confession of faith tailored by a Roman priest to the converting Orthodox person, no need for re-baptizing or re-charismation.

3. In relation to the above two questions; it is my fantastic hope that Orthodoxy would not be divided as to the answers to my questions...but if different Orthodox churches would have different responses to the questions, would you please express what the differences would be, and who would answer what?

Thank you!

Best regards,
Evan

#2 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 16 July 2011 - 09:45 PM

1. If an Orthodox person begins attending and receiving communion in a Catholic Church, I understand that the person is probably de facto (and perhaps officially) excommunicated from the Orthodox Church.

I do not think one is excommunicated for attending a Roman Catholic church but it is certainly not a wise idea, why go to their and not to your church to the Orthodox Church into which you were received and of which you are a member? If I may I would like to say that I think you need to look at why you would like to go to a Roman Catholic church what does it have that is lacking in the Orthodox Church? Do you feel Christ at the Orthodox Church if so why search for what you have found?

As to partaking of Roman Catholic sacraments yes one would, to my knowledge, be excommunicated.

This is more of a curiosity than something that would be useful to me. If a Roman Catholic desires to join the Orthodox Church, how does the Catholic go about doing that? I've been made to understand that the opposite journey merely requires a confession of faith tailored by a Roman priest to the converting Orthodox person, no need for re-baptizing or re-charismation.

This is done in different ways and is subject to debate at the end of the day it is up to the local bishop of the church into which he would like to join. I do not know how a Orthodox person is received into the Roman Catholicism, what you said sound like it would be the case but I do not know however what I do know is a Saint (May the Lord forgive me as I forget his name) said that an Orthodox person who leaves the Church looses his soul.

In Christ.
Daniel,

B.T.W. The Roman Church was Orthodox at one point so it is less of crossing the Tiber then what side of the Jordan one wants to be on safe in the Israel of God the Holy Orthodox Church or over the other side.

#3 Father David Moser

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Posted 16 July 2011 - 09:59 PM

1. If an Orthodox person begins attending and receiving communion in a Catholic Church, I understand that the person is probably de facto (and perhaps officially) excommunicated from the Orthodox Church.


This is true. By receiving the sacraments in a Catholic Church you functionally unite yourself to them and thus have separated yourself from the Orthodox Church. In order to return to the Orthodox Church in this case (since Orthodoxy was where you began), it would be necessary to confess your abandonment of the faith in the sacrament of confession and receive absolution from the priest as well as complete whatever epitimia he may give.

In relation to this, I've been made to understand that when I commit a mortal sin, I'm excommunicated from Orthodoxy, de facto, until I am loosed of that sin and re-connected to the body through reconciliation/confession/absolution. Is the nature of this excommunication different in substance than the "excommunication" of joining Roman Catholicism?


This is a tough question since in Orthodoxy there is no such thing as a "mortal sin" - or perhaps it could be said that all sins are "mortal" since all lead to separation from Christ. Whenever you sin, no matter how great or small, you erect a barrier between yourself and Christ thus "separating" yourself from Him. The sacrament of confession is the means by which that barrier is removed.

2. This is more of a curiosity than something that would be useful to me. If a Roman Catholic desires to join the Orthodox Church, how does the Catholic go about doing that? I've been made to understand that the opposite journey merely requires a confession of faith tailored by a Roman priest to the converting Orthodox person, no need for re-baptizing or re-charismation.


The method of reception into the Orthodox Church is by default baptism and chrismation. There are certain circumstances when pastoral discretion can be applied and reception by chrismation only or in some cases reception by confession of faith are utilized. The longstanding statutes of the Russian Orthodox Church (see this article) indicate that Roman Catholics can be received by confession of faith - however that is not the case in the diasporal Church. In the Russian Church Outside of Russia, reception is sometimes by Chrismation and sometimes by baptism and chismation and that depends on the instruction of the ruling bishop of the diocese. In other jurisdictions - Greeks, Antiochians, Serbs, etc in North America the mode of reception can vary greatly and only the ruling bishop can give a definitive answer.

3. In relation to the above two questions; it is my fantastic hope that Orthodoxy would not be divided as to the answers to my questions...but if different Orthodox churches would have different responses to the questions, would you please express what the differences would be, and who would answer what?


See the above comments

Fr David Moser

#4 Evan Herberth

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Posted 17 July 2011 - 12:52 AM

Dear Fr. David,

Thanks a bunch for the information!

This is true. By receiving the sacraments in a Catholic Church you functionally unite yourself to them and thus have separated yourself from the Orthodox Church. In order to return to the Orthodox Church in this case (since Orthodoxy was where you began), it would be necessary to confess your abandonment of the faith in the sacrament of confession and receive absolution from the priest as well as complete whatever epitimia he may give.


Is an epitimia a penitence? I'm being a little facetious here, but I assume the penitence would not be to spit at a likeness of the Pope. Maybe a canon of repentance, or something of that nature? In which case, a communion with Catholicism is considered to be a serious sin? I do appreciate the counsel, though, as I was curious what a return would look like, though I understand your qualification that it's only because I began Orthodox (to which I will add below).

This is a tough question since in Orthodoxy there is no such thing as a "mortal sin" - or perhaps it could be said that all sins are "mortal" since all lead to separation from Christ. Whenever you sin, no matter how great or small, you erect a barrier between yourself and Christ thus "separating" yourself from Him. The sacrament of confession is the means by which that barrier is removed.


I don't know, Fr. David, I've read some of St. Nikedomus the Hagiorite's Exomologitarion, and he probably mentioned "mortal sins" about a thousand times, and threw them into steep contrast with lesser sins. Was he in error?

The method of reception into the Orthodox Church is by default baptism and chrismation. There are certain circumstances when pastoral discretion can be applied and reception by chrismation only or in some cases reception by confession of faith are utilized. The longstanding statutes of the Russian Orthodox Church (see this article) indicate that Roman Catholics can be received by confession of faith - however that is not the case in the diasporal Church. In the Russian Church Outside of Russia, reception is sometimes by Chrismation and sometimes by baptism and chismation and that depends on the instruction of the ruling bishop of the diocese. In other jurisdictions - Greeks, Antiochians, Serbs, etc in North America the mode of reception can vary greatly and only the ruling bishop can give a definitive answer.


I appreciate the straightforward answer. It seems like the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church have similar methods of reception. The only thing that confounds me is that the Russian Orthodox Church seems to assume that Catholicism possesses a valid baptism and chrismation, in which case, the others, that require a re-baptism and re-chrismation would be falling into the heresy of Donatism; is that not true?

Dear Daniel,

I appreciate your counsel. I would not be going to tempt myself....in fact, I haven't gone at all, in spite of my crisis of faith to possibly do so; though I may, in good conscience, go to support my mother in her decision to move from nothing to Catholicism. We can debate until we're blue in the face about that, but I'm very firmly supporting her in that decision, if she so chooses.

It was St. Theophan the Recluse who said that you'll lose your soul. That bothers me just slightly; because unless he's assuming that the person leaving Orthodoxy is doing so out of sheer malice, then naturally the person who is leaving is doing so within the dictates of their conscience, whether in truth or in error (only The Lord can tell). I don't know if I believe God would condemn someone who moved from Orthodoxy to a slightly lesser faith, if they did so believing that the lesser was the greater, but what do I know? I only know that St. Gregory of Nyssa would have claimed no one will lose their soul forever as St. Theophan said, so Sainthood does not imply absolute freedom from error. The two positions are mutually exclusive.

Thanks,
Evan

#5 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 17 July 2011 - 04:59 PM

Dear Evan,

I appreciate your counsel. I would not be going to tempt myself....in fact, I haven't gone at all, in spite of my crisis of faith to possibly do so; though I may, in good conscience, go to support my mother in her decision to move from nothing to Catholicism. We can debate until we're blue in the face about that, but I'm very firmly supporting her in that decision, if she so chooses.

I think, at least to me, it is a different mater to go for a family event rather then for yourself, going to support your mother is not the same as going for yourself. Also of course it would be better for her to become Orthodox but from nothing to Roman Catholicism is a very big step in the right direction. Also we all have a from of crisis in our faith at some point hold fast, God sees your struggles in faith have yet faith in Him to deliver you from them.

It was St. Theophan the Recluse who said that you'll lose your soul.

Thank you for his name.

That bothers me just slightly; because unless he's assuming that the person leaving Orthodoxy is doing so out of sheer malice, then naturally the person who is leaving is doing so within the dictates of their conscience, whether in truth or in error (only The Lord can tell).

But many wrong things we can do within our conscience, it is only a guide and one which needs to be tuned, for it is oft prayed asking for forgives of offenses "whether knowingly or unknowingly" for one if I am to grow and learn some things I once thought permissible now I see as impermissible, what was once o.k. is now know as sin. For example many in the world now tread not just wrong paths but even sin openly professing there sin to be a lifestyle choice, as their conscience is clouded and so they know not right from wrong.

I don't know if I believe God would condemn someone who moved from Orthodoxy to a slightly lesser faith, if they did so believing that the lesser was the greater, but what do I know?

I think it important that if one is in a state of something then the consequence forever applies, so if one separated himself from the Church as the body of Christ the consequence is death as Christ is Life. But if one repents and re-joins himself to Christ he no longer has death but Life as he is no longer in the state of separation but is joined to Christ. So to me what Saint Theophan is saying is someone who is separated from the Church has lost his soul forever but if (and if, for I think it would be a hard think to realize the mistake) he then repents and rejoins the Church he has regained his soul. So the forever is how long the soul is lost provided there is no repentance.

I only know that St. Gregory of Nyssa would have claimed no one will lose their soul forever as St. Theophan said.

I think you are referring to universal salvation there is debate on whether he did believe this but the Church (and the Roman Catholics) rejects this view.

In regard to mortal sins I would just like to say from my reading of the Fathers (mainly Saint Ambrose and Saint Bede) some sins are worse than others but all sin still separates us from God. The Orthodox Church therefore although declaring some sins worse than others does not separate into mortal and venial sins as she does not believe in purgatory which makes them necessary. However I believe Saint Nikedomus is using the word to show which sins he believes are worse than others.

In Christ.
Daniel,

#6 John Mitchell

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 04:37 PM

Dear All,

I have a simple question that I've posed to Catholics on another forum, and would like to also pose here. I'm trying to amass some practical knowledge that's hard to come by, IMHO.

1. If an Orthodox person begins attending and receiving communion in a Catholic Church, I understand that the person is probably de facto (and perhaps officially) excommunicated from the Orthodox Church. In relation to this, I've been made to understand that when I commit a mortal sin, I'm excommunicated from Orthodoxy, de facto, until I am loosed of that sin and re-connected to the body through reconciliation/confession/absolution. Is the nature of this excommunication different in substance than the "excommunication" of joining Roman Catholicism?

2. This is more of a curiosity than something that would be useful to me. If a Roman Catholic desires to join the Orthodox Church, how does the Catholic go about doing that? I've been made to understand that the opposite journey merely requires a confession of faith tailored by a Roman priest to the converting Orthodox person, no need for re-baptizing or re-charismation.

3. In relation to the above two questions; it is my fantastic hope that Orthodoxy would not be divided as to the answers to my questions...but if different Orthodox churches would have different responses to the questions, would you please express what the differences would be, and who would answer what?

Thank you!

Best regards,
Evan


I believe the name of the river you cross to and from Rome is Rubicon, If youre at the Tiber, you are already there.




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