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Morning Catholic must-reads: 03/05/13

A daily guide to what’s happening in the Catholic Church

By on Friday, 3 May 2013

A Syriac Orthodox leader greets Cardinal Dolan during a Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral in New York for the safety of kidnapped Orthodox bishops (CNS)

A Syriac Orthodox leader greets Cardinal Dolan during a Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral in New York for the safety of kidnapped Orthodox bishops (CNS)

Cardinal Timothy Dolan has appealed for prayers for the two Syrian bishops who still remain unaccounted for after they were kidnapped on April 22.

Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence has said he is “profoundly disappointed” that Rhode Island has become the 10th American state to approve same-sex marriage (full text of pastoral letter).

Yesterday Pope Francis received the first Russian ambassador to the Holy See since the two states established full diplomatic relations in 2009 (video).

Restorers have uncovered what may be the earliest depiction of Native Americans in a Renaissance painting at the Vatican.

Patrick Jordan describes his experience of editing the Catholic Worker newspaper alongside Dorothy Day.

Jesuit priest and Byzantine liturgical theologian Fr Robert Taft says Pope Francis could be a “bridge-builder between East and West“.

And John Thavis notes that the Pope Emeritus will be able to enjoy his retirement at the Vatican in the company of cats.

Follow me on Twitter @lukecoppen for updates throughout the day.

The next Morning Catholic must-reads will be on Monday, May 20.

  • lewispbuckingham

    Some thoughts on ‘sister church’.
    The CWR Blog

    “Sister Churches”: A Clarification

    May 02, 2013 12:15 EST

    By Michael J. Miller

    met the Right Reverend Archimandrite Robert Taft, S.J., at an
    Eastern-rite monastery
    that I was visiting in 1985. The
    community was still in the refectory, whereas I happened to be near the
    vestibule,
    so I was the one who went to the front door when he rang. There was a
    moment of confusion: I had had no idea that the monks were
    expecting such a renowned guest, and the guest may have expected a more
    formal
    reception. Yet it was fitting that
    a Jesuit scholar of the Byzantine liturgy should be greeted by a
    “porter” whose
    father was Ukrainian Catholic and whose mother was of the Latin rite.

    With
    all due respect to Abouna [Father] Robert, who for decades has served the
    Catholic Church well as an erudite scholar and a tireless ecumenist, he
    insistently uses the expression “Sister Churches” in a way that could easily be
    misleading in his recent interview with Catholic World Report. The editor helpfully linked the
    expression to a page that thoroughly explains the significance of “particular
    Churches” in post-Vatican-II ecclesiology. For those who have neither the patience nor the theological
    training to synthesize the wealth of information on that page, this blog post
    may help clarify the matter.

    The
    Catechism of the Catholic Church begins its teaching about the article of faith
    from the Creed, “I believe in the holy catholic Church,” with a few notes on
    terminology. “In Christian usage,
    the word ‘church’ designates [1] the liturgical assembly, but also [2] the
    local community or [3] the whole universal community of believers. These three meanings are inseparable”
    (CCC 752). In everyday
    conversation we move easily and without confusion among these different
    meanings. “We went to church this
    morning [1].” “I’m registered at
    the Church of the Annunciation [2].”
    “Christ promised to be with His Church always [3].”

    Because
    a diocese is normally headed by a bishop, who has the fullness of Holy Orders,
    while a parish is usually headed by a priest, in theological discussion the
    second usage of “Church” usually refers to a “local Church” or a “particular
    Church”. In the Latin rite this is
    called a diocese or an archdiocese;
    “eparchy” and “archeparchy” are names for it in the Byzantine rite. The relations between this “mid-sized”
    Church [2] and the other two connotations of “Church” can be discerned in the
    New Testament and are stated clearly as early as the second century in the
    Letters of Saint Ignatius. The
    local Church exists—for example, in Philadelphia or in Ephesus—for the sake of
    liturgical worship, which inaugurates and sustains the life of grace in
    Christians; moreover the Eucharist
    and even the sacrament of marriage is always to be celebrated in union with the
    local bishop (i.e. with his approval if he does not actually preside). The connection between the local Church
    [2] and the universal Church [3] is evident in Ignatius’ insistence on the
    unity of faith and the reality of Christ’s [Mystical] Body.

    The
    expression “Sister Churches” is not theological but historical and (in recent
    years) diplomatic. Fr. Adriano
    Garuti, O.F.M., a professor of ecclesiology and ecumenism who has served with
    the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, writes: “The intention behind such language is
    the establishment of the reality of sister Churches as a possible way to
    ‘envisage reunion among divided traditions as a family reconciliation’…. One does get the impression, however,
    that a certain ambiguity and lack of continuity prevail in the use of the term.” The uses and misuses of this expression
    are examined in depth in his essay “Sister Churches: Reality and Questions”
    (reprinted in the book Primacy of the Bishop of Rome and the Ecumenical
    Dialogue
    by the same author.)

    The
    early Church in the East was organized not only by locality but
    regionally. A “Metropolia” united
    several local eparchies and/or archeparchies in an administrative unit. Within such a unit, two neighboring
    eparchies would be regarded as “Daughter Churches” of the Metropolia and therefore
    “Sister Churches” to one another.
    Fr. Garuti notes “the special sensibility of the Eastern Christians for
    the fraternity
    that exists among the individual [local] Churches [2]”. He immediately goes on to add, however,
    that “when it is a question of the principles on which to build unity, … the
    [Universal Catholic] Church [3] cannot be considered a sister [e.g. to the Orthodox
    Churches (2)], but rather the Mother of the local Churches.”

    When
    Pope Francis referred to himself as “the Bishop of Rome” in his first public
    speech on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, he was humbly acknowledging that
    in the first place he had been elected the Bishop of Rome, a local Church. As Bishop of Rome he can greet Orthodox
    bishops of other localities as “brother bishops”, since they head “sister
    Churches [2]”. But the Bishop of
    Rome is also ex officio the Pastor of the Universal Church [3], and there is no
    corresponding office or “unit” in the Orthodox world, nor could there ever be.

    Joseph
    Ratzinger pointed this out as early as 1966, just after the completion of the
    Second Vatican Council. At a
    Catholic Conference in Bamberg he urged caution when speaking about “the
    Churches” in the plural, warning against “a euphoria … that forgets to makes
    difficult demands on itself and overlooks the fact that the Catholic Church
    dares and must dare to take the paradoxical position of attributing to herself
    in a unique way the singular form, ‘the Church’ [3], despite and in the midst
    of the plurality [2] she has accepted.”
    (Quoted in Joseph Ratzinger: Life in the Church and Living Theology by Maximilian Heinrich
    Heim.) Because it can lead to
    misunderstandings between Catholics and Orthodox, Joseph Ratzinger scrupulously
    avoided
    the expression “Sister Churches” in his extensive writings on ecumenism.

    In
    conclusion: the Right Rev.
    Archimandrite Robert Taft is not the only ecclesiologist on the block. If he had used the expression
    “particular Churches” in his interview, he would have been more accurate,
    because that (and not “Sister Churches”) is the expression that has been
    enshrined in the Catechism and in post-conciliar Catholic
    ecclesiology.
    Michael J. Miller
    Michael J. Miller translated Joseph Ratzinger: Life in the Church and Living Theology: Fundamentals of Ecclesiology with Reference to Lumen Gentium, by Maximilian Heinrich Heim for Ignatius Press.

  • Sara_TMS_again

    Wot no ref to the Pope’s decision to meet the Union of International Superiors General? Should be an interesting meeting…

    http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/pope-francis-meet-privately-international-sisters