Francis’s Radical Realism: Performance v. Ideology

Sam Rocha writing at Ethika Politika makes an interesting point about Pope Francis as the first “American” pope. While Rocha’s argument is not above criticism, I think his central point–that as

…since the pragmatism of William James (and the pragmaticism of C.S. Pierce), there has been a distinct sense of concreteness to the original philosophical ideas produced on this continent. Yet, in a more direct way, the geopolitical situation in Latin America over the past hundred years has produced a sense of the concrete that is more than purely philosophical in nature. The comparative political history of modernity in Europe and the Americas makes this very clear. Whereas the European story is driven by an intellectual progression of ideas (e.g., rationalism, empiricism, idealism, and so on), the Latin American version is a postcolonial response to political situations.

He goes on to argue, as he says in the concluding paragraphs, that the real importance of Pope Francis for the Catholic Church (and indeed the Christian community in general and the wider culture is his “radical realism. What Rocha means by this is the tendency of Francis

…to treat the Word as an incarnate thing, as a reality to be shown more than it is said, to let its proclamation live in the performance of its witness, to be captured in pictures of tenderness, embrace, ordinary living. A kiss. Acts such as these are immune to the ideological trap of Western ideas that has turned so much of the reality of the Gospel into intellectual history, moral theology, and dogmatic ideals. A real Gospel cannot be a philosophy or even a philosophical theology. A philosophical Catholicism is what Francis seems to be avoiding, and for good reason.

This kind of “radical realism,” incarnated especially in ascetical struggle and liturgical worship, is the reason for the surprising success of Eastern Orthodox among not only American Evangelical Protestants but also the unchurched. What Pope Francis brings to the conversation about–or maybe better, the practice of– radical Christian realism is a spontaneous and warm openness to, well, everybody. While this hospitality (xenophilia) is not uncommon among Orthodox Christians, it is too often obscured by the heaviness with which we approach our theological tradition and our ethical cultures (including American). Continue reading

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The Universal Governance of the Church

Some priests are very good at music, others at Church history or theology. Me? I’m good at paperwork. It’s not glamorous to be sure but as St Paul reminds us administration too is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (see (1 Corinthians 12:27-28).

And it is as someone who–much to my surprise–is good at church administration, that I was delighted by a suggestion made His Beatitude Daniel the Patriarch of Romania. Speaking at last week’s preparatory meeting for the upcoming Synaxis of Orthodox Churches (scheduled for 2016), His Beatitude observes that

…in a pan-Orthodox Synaxis, as in a family, specific issues which negatively affect relations between sister Orthodox Churches and Orthodox witness in the world of today can also be discussed. Although the pan-Orthodox Synaxis is not a Pan-Orthodox Synod, nevertheless it may greatly help in understanding the importance of synodality at universal or pan-Orthodox level.

English: Romanian patriarch Daniel

English: Romanian patriarch Daniel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He goes on to say that

Since the Holy Canons require that the bishops should gather in Synod at least twice a year (37 Apostolic canon, canon 5 of the First Ecumenical Council, canon 19 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council and canon 20 of the local Synod of Antioch), the pan-Orthodox Synaxes should be organised at least once every two years, in order to intensify today the pan-Orthodox communion, cooperation and solidarity (See more here).

The suggestion that the heads of the various autocephalous Churches meet bi-annual is I think a good one and one that should be implemented. Continue reading

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“Theological dialogue with Catholics risks failure” – Vatican Insider

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(Vatican Insider) The theological dialogue between Catholic and Orthodox Churches which was launched with the aim of achieving full sacramental communion, risks stalling permanently. And one of the main reasons for this would appear to be the divisions that exist between the Orthodox Churches and those influential circles within the Orthodox faith – the Patriarchate of Moscow above all – that are refusing to recognise one universal primate as the leader of the Church, founded on a shared and canonical and ecclesial tradition. The alarm was raised by none other than the Metropolitan of Pergamon, Ioannis Zizioulas, a former member of the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, co-President of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Zizioulas, whom many consider to be the greatest living Christian theologian (his “Eucharistic ecclesiology” is appreciated both by Pope Francis and his predecessor Benedict XVI) restores faith in the upcoming meeting between the Bishop of Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Jerusalem next May. He sees unity among Christians as much more than just an alliance between Church hierarchies to form a “common front” to deal with ethical and sex-related issues.

Meanwhile, the direction the Ukrainian crisis has taken raises questions once again over the control the Patriarchate of Moscow exercises over the majority of Orthodox parishes in the Ukraine.

And the rest here “Theological dialogue with Catholics risks failure” .

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Syria, the Pope, China: A Conversation with Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion

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RUSSIA_-_VATICAN_Pope+Fancis+Hilarion+VolokolamskMoscow (AsiaNews) – The concern for the fate of Christians in Syria , where ” extremist forces aim to completely destroy Christianity “, the signs of a possible “normalization of worship for Orthodox believers in China ” ; dissatisfaction in the field of theological dialogue with Catholics, but the “amazing results ” in the common work on moral and the social values ​​. In an interview with AsiaNews , Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk , Head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Relations, tackles the main “foreign policy” themes of the Russian Orthodox Church and also focuses on the internal situation in Russia, where – he says – the much- criticized law against homosexual propaganda should be taken as a model by Western countries , which instead by favouring homosexual unions are heading towards “certain death .”

The situation is dramatic is Syria, what is the Russian Orthodox Churches‘ view of this conflict?

The situation in Syria deeply troubles us. This armed conflict has been going on for some time now. I would not term it a civil war, because I believe that it is a case of a struggle between diverse states in the territory of a third State, and very often the armed groups , which some call the opposition , are actually composed of foreigners, fighting with foreign money .

What concerns the Moscow Patriarchate most?

What worries the Russian Orthodox Church most of all is the fate of the civilian population and that of the Christians. It is clear that the extremist forces seeking power have set themselves the goal of the complete and total destruction of Christianity in Syria. And if they take power, even temporarily, the Christian population will be eliminated or driven out from their lands and their churches will be destroyed. We have repeatedly expressed……

Read more at asianews.it

h/t: Free Republic

 

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Disputes with Orthodox ‘resolved’

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SourceThe Tablet.

Disputes with Orthodox 'resolved'

Russia’s Catholic archbishop has said he believes long-running Orthodox complaints about the Church’s activities in the country have now been settled for good, thanks to improved ecumenical relations.

In an interview with the Kommersant daily, Archbishop Paolo Pezzi, head of the Moscow-based Mother of God Archdiocese since 2007, said Russia’s million-strong Catholic Church still faced problems in cities such as Ryazan, Kirov and Vologda, where its Soviet-seized places of worship had still not been returned.

However, he added that questions raised by the Russian Orthodox Church about Catholic activities, including complaints of encroachment in the former Soviet Union, had now been “answered”, adding that he believed there was now nothing to prevent direct talks between Kirill I and Pope Francis.

 

 

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Building a Common Front in Defense of the Faith

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Religion & Liberty Executive Editor John Couretas interviewed Hilarion in October 2012 at the Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, Wis. He was at the Anglican seminary to receive an honorary Doctor of Music degree. noted composer as well as an accomplished Orthodox Christian theologian, he delivered a talk at Nashotah titled, “The Music of J.S. Bach as a Religious Phenomenon.” In the interview, the Russian bishop talks about the situation in the Middle East, the Balkans and North Africa, and ecumenical relations. You can read the whole interview here.


R&L: I’d like to close with a question about ecumenical relations. You spoke earlier here at Nashotah House about your warm feelings for traditionalist Anglicans, but also about the drift away from tradition as you see it in the wider Episcopal Church. How would you describe the state of inter- Christian relations with Protestants and Roman Catholics vis-a-vis the Moscow Patriarchate?

Metropolitan Hilarion: I think the whole field of ecumenical relations can be divided into two major sectors—for us at least. One is the relations between the Orthodox and the Catholics. And another one is the relations between Orthodox on the one hand and the Protestants—Anglicans, Baptists, and others. And here I see two very different tendencies. With regards to Orthodox-Catholic relations, I see that generally, on the worldwide level, these relations are constantly improving and that there is a sense of rapprochement between the two traditions. We more and more realize that we are not competing structures but that we are allies in the process of evangelization and the mission. We don’t have many common missionary projects, but we have a similar missionary strategy and I think we, in spite of certain differences in theology, essentially are united on all social and moral issues. And this provides us with the possibility to form a common front to defend traditional Christianity, in particular against the challenges of militant secularism and atheism.

With regards to Anglican and Protestant communities, of course the situation is very different. In many Protestant communities of the West and of the North, the process of liberalization has gone very far. And we can no longer regard these communities as representing the authentic church tradition. On the contrary, we see that theological teaching, moral teaching, as well as church order is gravely affected in these communities by liberal trends. And with some of them we have to break relations. For example, we had to break the dialogue with the Episcopal Church of the USA in 2003 in spite of the fact that we had been in dialogue with this church for over 30 years. We had to suspend this dialogue because of the unacceptable events happening in this church, in particular the ordination of an openly-practicing homosexual into the episcopate. And we are now more involved in dialogue with the conservative wing of the Episcopal Church, in particular with the newly formed Anglican Church of North America, with the representatives of whom I met here at Nashotah House. And I believe that we will continue to support them.

 

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Table time: Pope discusses, prays, dines with Orthodox representatives

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Source Catholic News Service.

By Cindy Wooden


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pastors and theologians involved in ecumenical dialogue emphasize the importance of “table time” — sharing meals — along with serious theological discussions, shared prayer and joint action.

Pope Francis spoke about his ecumenical vision March 20 and prayed with delegates from Orthodox and other Christian communities at his inaugural Mass March 19.

Since March 17, he’s also had breakfast, lunch and dinner with the Orthodox representatives who came to Rome for his inauguration. Pope Francis is still living at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guesthouse where the Orthodox delegates also were staying.

They all eat together and greet each other in the common dining room.

Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Tarasios of Buenos Aires and South America was one of the delegates who shared meals and prayers with the new pope. In fact, he’s been doing that since then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio attended his enthronement in Buenos Aires in 2001.

When they first saw each other March 17, they embraced.

“I said to him, ‘What have you done?’ He said, ‘Not I. They did it to me,’ pointing to the cardinals,” said the Orthodox leader, who was born in the United States. Continue reading

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