We deny to claim "any Superiority to ourself
to defyne, decyde, or determyn any Article or Poynt
of the Christian Fayth and Relligion,
or to chang any Ancient Ceremony of the Church
from the Forme before received and observed
by the Catholick and Apostolick Church."

Norman Simplicity

Norman Simplicity
Click image for original | © Vitrearum (Allan Barton)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


From here. Written in 2005. Saving parts here, from potential destruction in the 'memory hole'.

On first consideration, the suggestion seems absurd that Byzantine Catholicism might be a real ecclesiastical option for American Episcopalians and other Anglicans seeking a fuller expression of their own catholicity. Why would Episcopalians, struggling with issues of parochialism, universality, unity, and the boundaries of legitimate diversity, even consider a tradition which has its own version of these problems, in addition to looming issues of ethnicity and inculturation within the American context? Surely for catholic-minded Episcopalians the only two real options are Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy, either in their traditional forms or in slightly marginalized structures, such as a revised form of “Prayer Book” Roman Catholicism or Western-Rite Orthodoxy. All of these, of course, are genuine alternatives which a number of Episcopalians, in their search for more theological cohesion, have chosen. I, however, would seriously like to suggest the option which is the obvious subject of this essay–Byzantine Catholicism ...

The ideal situation with regard to Anglicans and the restoration of full communion would be, in my opinion, the creation of an entire “uniate” Anglican Ritual Church, similar to that the Eastern Catholic Churches. Since, however, this seems unlikely in the near future, the next best option, it seems to me, would be the assimilation of former Anglicans to a Catholic Church which is like them in ethos and is in full communion with the Holy See.

Of all the Byzantine Ritual Churches, my own, the tiny Russian Church, probably fits the cultural bill the best. The Russian ethos and the English ethos, even in their attenuated American forms, are very much compatible with one another. Russian Catholicism, moreover, is largely a “convert phenomenon” and does not suffer from the ethnic problems that other Eastern Churches frequently experience. Moreover, since it is the youngest member of the family of Byzantine Catholic Churches and did not go through the painful experience of Latinization, it has maintained the Byzantine Orthodox heritage perhaps more fully and more integrally than some other Byzantine Churches have been able to do. Ever since the 2nd Vatican Council, the Holy See has, in fact, repeatedly called upon all Eastern Churches to recover, where lost, their authentic traditions.

In any case, out of love for the unity of the Church, both Anglicans and Byzantine Catholics have had experience in living as “bridge communities,” striving to unite diverse, and seemingly divergent, elements and drawing them into “wholeness” and communion. Isn’t this in fact what the struggle for “catholicity” really means? The possibility of Christian communities bringing together and synthesizing the Anglican experience of living within the mainstream of Western culture and intellectual life, the Eastern tradition of theology, spirituality and worship, and real communion with both the Latin Church and the Petrine centre of Christianity bristles with truly exciting possibilities!

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